Aspen Institute Introduces Tool to Help Parents Navigate Kids Sports

Prominent Sports Figures Offer Advice Based on Age and Engagement Level


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WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2018 – The Aspen Institute released today its enhanced Project Play Parent Checklists that help parents ask the right sports questions so their child has a positive playing experience.

When you become a parent, your favorite athlete usually turns into the child that you’re raising. Yet navigating youth sports can be confusing and frustrating. Parents often don’t know what questions to ask of themselves, their child and their sports provider so kids return for more.

The Project Play Parent Checklists offer a valuable tool – knowledge to help parents feel empowered to ask the right questions for kids 12 and under. Featured on the new Project Play website (, the interactive checklists provide 10 simple, research-driven questions depending on a child’s age and engagement level.

As part of the checklists, hockey Hall of Famer Angela Ruggiero, Olympic gold medal swimmer Gary Hall Jr., former baseball All-Star Harold Reynolds, Olympic gold medal hurdler Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, and NBC Sports broadcasters Dan Hicks and Rebecca Lowe are among the sports figures offering advice in three videos. Parents learn how toddlers can take first steps toward physical activity, four simple ways to get non-active kids off the couch, and tips to make sure children have a positive experience while in the commercialized world of youth sports.

“Parents need a trusted resource to demand quality from local sport providers,” said Tom Farrey, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program executive director. “These checklists fill that gap, drawing from the research and best practices identified in our Project Play work. Parents who are informed advocates, and who understand what their child needs, hold the key to improving the quality of youth sports everywhere.”

The checklists allow parents to interactively score themselves based on how many questions they have gotten answered on behalf of their child. Parents can also read additional resources from leading experts, including Project Play’s recommendation that sports programs invest in equal playing time for every child through age 12, at least.

The Project Play Parent checklists were largely inspired by Sport For All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game, a seminal report by Project Play, which developed its framework with input from more than 300 thought leaders. Additional experts and resources were consulted in the development of the checklists, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; American Academy of Pediatrics; Michigan State University’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports; USA Hockey, U.S. Lacrosse; University of Minnesota; Playworks, President’s Council on Fitness; Sports & Nutrition; Shape America; and Whole Child Sports.

An initiative of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program, Project Play develops, applies and shares knowledges that helps stakeholders build healthy communities through sports.

To read the Aspen Institute’s Project Play Parent Checklists, please visit

For more information on Project Play, please visit

Contact: Jon Solomon, Editorial Director, Sports & Society Program, C: 205.572.2907