STATE OF PLAY Seattle–King County

In 2019, the Aspen Institute landscaped youth sports in Seattle and King County. The project was in partnership with the University of Washington and King County Parks, along with the YMCA of Greater Seattle, Seattle Mariners and Kaiser Permanente, in an effort to prioritize equal access to youth sports.

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Seattle was the fastest-growing U.S. city in 2017, with 1,000 newcomers arriving every week. The population boom brings increased pressure on infrastructure, including the area’s shared spaces for play and sport. With access scarce, many travel teams are able to rent space for fields and community centers, leaving lower-income youth behind for what’s supposed to be shared spaces. Only 29 percent of sixth-grade youth in King County get the recommended level of physical activity, and this drops to 18 percent by the 12th grade. Hispanic and Pacific Islander youth are almost twice as likely to be overweight compared to the King County average.

The report was released around the 2019 Project Play Summit. Along with the release of the report, the University of Washington announced the formation of the Play Equity Coalition of King County. Listen to Tom Farrey of the Aspen Institute and Julie McCleery of the University of Washington Center for Leadership in Athletics discuss inequities for youth sports in Seattle.



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