Coming Soon: Don’t Retire, Kid

“Don’t Retire Kid,” a new Project Play parent engagement campaign, is designed to drive public awareness of youth attrition in sports. It’s inspired by Project Play 2020, a set of leading organizations that have come together to grow national sport participation rates and related metrics among youth. The campaign launches Aug. 4 on ESPN’s morning SportsCenter and with new resources on this website.

2019 project play summit: Sept. 17-18 in detroit

For the first time, we are taking the Project Play Summit to a different part of the country. The nation’s premier gathering of leaders at the intersection of youth, sport and health will be held Sept. 17-18, 2019, in Detroit. Registration is now open. The Project Play Summit is where stakeholders from across sectors take measure of the state of play and chart next steps in building healthy children and communities through sports. The event will continue to explore national trends, while sharing lessons learned from our community-based work.

Calls for Coaches


What if we measured coaches more by the personal development of athletes than wins and losses? Read Calls for Coaches, a new resource from the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development to help youth coaches develop personal growth in their players. Watch our Future of Coaching discussion. Read Editorial Director Jon Solomon on why good coaches matter beyond wins and losses.

Healthy Sport Index Contest

Project Play is looking for high school sports teams that embrace best practices and innovate to encourage physical activity, minimize injury risk, and support athletes' emotional, social and mental well-being. Apply now for our Healthy Sport Index contest. Winners will receive a financial award and national recognition as a model for others in their sport. Launched in October 2018, the Healthy Sport Index identifies in one place the relative benefits and risks of participating in the 10 most popular high school sports for boys and girls. The tool combines the best available data and expert analysis while allowing users to customize sport-by-sport results by their own health priorities. Also learn which sports are most complementary to play, for athletic skill development and overall health.

Project Play 2020 Spotlight


Project Play 2020 is a multiyear effort by leading organizations to grow national sport participation rates and related metrics among youth. We periodically speak with a leader from one of the 20 organizations to assess the state of youth sports. The latest spotlight: PGA President Suzy Whaley discussed plans to grow the diversity of golf’s participants, the organization’s stance on multisport play, and the role of Project Play 2020.

National state of play report

Our annual State of Play report identifies 40 key developments and presents the latest data on sport participation and physical activity rates among youth. The latest report was released in October 2018 and includes a look at the progress made since Project Play launched in 2013.

How to coach kids aggregates resources to train coaches by sport and topic, and includes a new, free 30-minute course on the general principles of coaching children through age 12. Co-developed by Nike and the U.S. Olympic Committee with the help of the Aspen Institute, the resource was inspired by Project Play 2020, a multiyear effort by leading organizations to grow national sport participation rates and related metrics among youth.

Coming Soon: Teamwork Toolkit

In fall 2019, parents, sport leaders, civic and school leaders, non-profits and others will be able to use the digital platform to help build Sport for All, Play for Life communities. The toolkit draws on knowledge the Aspen Institute has acquired from landscaping the state of play for youth and mobilizing leaders in several cities, counties and regions. Users will have access to the toolkit, which has been developed in partnership with ESPN and Under Armour.

parent checklists

The first and most important leader in the life of a child is the parent. So we created checklists with 10 questions that caregivers can ask themselves, their child, and sport providers that will help build an athlete for life. 

community work

Hundreds of organizations, from the U.S. Olympic Committee to grassroots sports providers, have used Project Play to shape and introduce youth programs. Among them: the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, which is using our expertise to guide grant-making, mobilize leaders and drive collective impact in Southeast Michigan and Western New York.

State of Play: Mobile County

We help organizations at the city, county and regional level assess how well children are being served through sports in their geographic areas. In October 2018, we released our latest report — State of Play: Mobile County, an in-depth report assessing the current state of play for kids and sports in Mobile County, Alabama. The report includes results from a survey of more than 1,700 local youth, and analyzes the challenges and opportunities facing Mobile County. Among the findings: girls have fewer sports opportunities than boys and 26 percent of surveyed youth said they are aware of adults betting on their game result. “We are appreciative of the Aspen Institute’s work in Mobile County and are excited for our local community to have access to the recommendations, which have proven success in the Aspen Institute’s five other markets,” said Jake Peavy, a former Major League Baseball player who helped partner on the report.

Lessons from Norway's olympic dominance

Norway athletes earned a record 39 medals at the Winter Olympics, a stunning 16 more than the United States. Norway is a nation of 5.3 million people, a population not much larger than Greater Detroit. Tom Farrey explores in The New York Times how Norway offers a road map on improving the U.S. youth sports model so it’s inclusive for more children.

shared goals

Launched in September 2017, Project Play 2020 represents the first time that major industry and non-profit organizations have come together to grow sport participation and improve related metrics among youth. Step One: develop tools for coach training and mobilize organizations to promote sport sampling. Read about the first round of mutually reinforcing actions, as well as commitments made through the new Project Play Champions program.

The Playbook

Developed with input from more than 300 experts over two years, our seminal report offers an evidence-based concept of what good looks like in youth sports – and the nation's first framework on how stakeholders work together to grow access for all children, regardless of zip code or ability. The playbook identifies eight strategies for the eight sectors that touch the lives of kids, with 40+ activation ideas.

You’ve built a very powerful roadmap.
— Vivek Murthy, former U.S. Surgeon General

get involved

Join the dialogue on Twitter and Facebook: @AspenInstSports and #ProjectPlay

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