The Aspen Institute today announced a multi-year effort by more than a dozen leading sport, health, media and other organizations to grow national sport participation rates and related metrics among youth. The initiative, Project Play 2020, represents the first time that industry and non-profit groups have come together to develop shared goals around making sport accessible to all children, regardless of zip code or ability.
The Aspen Institute will help guide the efforts of Project Play 2020, an outgrowth of Project Play, which since 2013 has provided a venue for stakeholders to build healthy communities through sports. The members will develop mutually reinforcing actions over the next three years consistent with the framework of the Project Play report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game.
The effort will be launched at the 2017 Project Play Summit, the nation’s premier gathering of leaders at the intersection of youth, sports and health. More than 400 leaders are attending the event at the Newseum, where the Institute released new data showing that only 36.9 percent of children ages 6-to-12 played team sports regularly in 2016 – down from 38.6 percent last year and 41.4 percent in 2012.
Two of the Project Play report’s eight strategies – Encourage Sport Sampling and Train All Coaches – will be an initial focus of Project Play 2020. Through work groups, members will develop opportunities to introduce kids to more sports, and to grow the quality and quantity of coaches. The average child today plays fewer than two sports, and less than one-third of youth coaches are trained in competencies such as safety and sport instruction, according to data provided by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
The founding members of Project Play 2020 are NBC Sports Group, Nike, Target, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, Dick’s Sporting Goods, U.S. Olympic Committee, Hospital for Special Surgery, PGA of America, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, New York Road Runners, National Fitness Foundation, American College of Sports Medicine, Ketchum Sports & Entertainment, Sports Facilities Advisory, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, and the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins University. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is Technical Liaison to the group.
Other organizations will be invited to join a broader coalition that offers benefits for aligning efforts.
“Today’s generation of kids is the least active in history,” said Caitlin Morris, General Manager, Nike Community Impact. “No one can solve this problem alone – that’s why the collaborative dialogue that Project Play creates is so necessary. Nike is dedicated to playing our part in helping kids fall in love with sport and play for life.”
Chris Marinak, Executive Vice President, League Economics & Strategy for Major League Baseball, said: “There is nothing more important to the future health of sports than to engage young people and offer them opportunities to play our games. In today’s era of digital options and sports specialization, it is important to endorse the developmental benefits of participating in different physical activities. Major
Major League Baseball is proud to join this collective effort to work toward the well-being of today’s children who will become tomorrow’s athletes.”
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred will keynote the Project Play Summit. More than 50 speakers will take measure of the state of youth sports, and explore opportunities for progress within Project Play’s eight strategy areas.
Research shows that engaging children in sport and physical activity unleashes a virtuous cycle that bears myriad rewards for individuals, families, and society. Lifting the number of youth who get and stay active will save tens of billions of dollars in direct medical costs and economic productivity losses alone, according to an analysis by the Johns Hopkins researchers.
“We believe that together we can help more kids play sports. Our mission is to inspire young people, and to provide a pathway to participation, for every athlete, from every background, for every sport,” said Justin Kaufenberg, CEO of SportsEngine, an NBC Sports Group company. “We’re incredibly proud to join Project Play 2020, and partner with each of the contributing member organizations.”
“Progress depends on the connecting of silos,” said Tom Farrey, executive director, the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program. “We look forward to facilitating the effort and helping identify opportunities.”
For more information on The Aspen Institute and Project Play 2020, please visit: http://www.projectplay.us