Project Play explores breakthrough ideas at three types of events: Town halls/summits for large gatherings, all-day deep dive roundtables with 25+ thought leaders, and "Aspen Timeout" panels held at major conferences of stakeholder organizations

American College of Sports Medicine

Project Play is proud to be among representatives from more than 70 disciplines that will come together from around the globe at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting to share new clinical techniques, scientific advancements and cutting-edge research in sports medicine, exercise science, physical activity and public health. At the meeting, Project Play will share Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game with the medical community, will emphasize the role that giving all children the opportunity to be active through sport can play in improving the health outcomes among youth, and offer insights into the forthcoming physical literacy white paper.

May 26, 2015 to May 30, 2015
9:00 am to 12:30 pm
San Diego, CA


May 26, 2015 to May 30, 2015
San Diego, CA

Project Play is proud to be among representatives from more than 70 disciplines that will come together from around the globe at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting to share new clinical techniques, scientific advancements and cutting-edge research in sports medicine, exercise science, physical activity and public health. At the meeting, Project Play will share Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game with the medical community, will emphasize the role that giving all children the opportunity to be active through sport can play in improving the health outcomes among youth, and offer insights into the forthcoming physical literacy white paper.

June 10, 2015 to June 12, 2015
Morgantown, WV

Sports & Society Program Executive Director Tom Farrey will deliver the keynote address at the National Coaching Conference, hosted by the United States Coaching Education Coalition. The coalition's members include the USOC, NCAA, NFHS, SHAPE America and NSCA. The National Coaching Conference is the Coalition's opportunity to bring together coaches, coach educators/developers and sport science researchers for the enrichment of coaching and sport. The theme for the 2015 National Coaching Conference is Physical Literacy: The Launching Pad for Lifetime Athletic Development and Performance. The program will focus on current research and practice models for optimal integration of athletic development for both participation and peak performance.

June 13, 2015 to June 16, 2015

The Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and Project Play will be leading a session at the 2015 International Physical Literacy Conference, which brings together sport, health, education and recreation experts to advance the knowledge, application and implementation of physical literacy programming across the globe. The session will be one of the first places where the Aspen Institute shares its forthcoming white paper on physical literacy.

August 31, 2015 to September 15, 2015
New York, NY

On a to-be-determined date during the 2015 US Open tournament, Project Play, in conjunction with the US Tennis Association, will hold a one-day event to celebrate the partnerships that have developed since the 2015 Project Play Summit and to announce new commitments to action that sync with the ideas presented in Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game.

September 15, 2015 to September 17, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

Project Play is proud to be speaking to the more than 7,000 park and recreation professionals, citizen advocates, and industry suppliers at the 2015 National Recreation and Parks Association Annual Conference, the premier annual meeting of the park and recreation community. At the conference, Project Play will share Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game and will emphasize the role that park and recreation departments can play in giving all children the opportunity to be active through sport.

March 14, 2015
Austin, TX
San Jacinto Room at the Four Seasons

Technology is often blamed for falling participation rates in team sports. But tech isn't going away (nor should it). So, how do we use tech as an asset to reduce the barriers to an early positive sports experience for all kids in all communities? How can technology help in reaching the hardest-to-reach kids, the ones most often left behind by today's youth sports system? On the heels of the release of the Aspen Institute's Project Play report, join us at SXSports for an engaging conversation about how technology - a solution to so many of society's needs - can help solve a broken youth sports system.

Saturday, March 14 @ 9:30AM
Four Seasons Austin - San Jacinto Room

February 26, 2015
Washington, DC
Aspen Institute

Over the past decade, about a dozen countries have introduced, in a variety of forms, social movements based on a concept that has become known as “physical literacy.” Now we’re helping introduce it to the U.S. Defined by our working group as “the ability, confidence, and desire to be physically active for life,” physical literacy efforts are a response to a common problem in developed societies: declining rates of physical activity.

Convened the day after the 2015 Project Play Summit (also held in Washington), the roundtable event will:
• Review the paper that our Physical Literacy Working Group has drafted
• Amend proposed sector recommendations and suggest additional ideas
• Lay the groundwork for broad adoption of physical literacy as a desired outcome with children

February 25, 2015
Washington, DC

What happens when 350 leaders gather to reimagine youth sports in America, using the Project Play report as a guide? A major groundswell of energy and efforts to make sports more accessible, affordable and enjoyable to more children. 

The 2015 Project Play Summit was hosted at the Newseum by the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program on the heels of the release of our report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game. A unifying document that aggregated the best ideas from nearly two years of roundtables and other events, the report offers a new model for youth sports based on the values of health and inclusion, with eight strategies and 40+ ideas on creating the opportunity for all children to get active through sports.

The Summit, sold out a month in advance, was the largest one-day event hosted by a policy program in the history of the Aspen Institute. Attended by leaders from the eight sectors that shape access to quality sport activity -- community recreation groups, national sport organizations, policymakers & civic leaders, education, public health, business & industry, and tech & media -- the event was also live-streamed to a virtual audience and generated significant social media conversation.

Highlights included the ground-breaking comments of new U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, whose keynote addressed the role of youth sports in serving the needs of public health. Dr. Murthy's remarks framed sport as a tool of disease prevention, and, in a first for a Surgeon General, highlighted the need to extend the benefits of participation to all youth. "Sports can be viewed as a privilege, or as a luxury, but for me and for many chilren who grow up in America, sport isn't just that," he said. "It's a necessity." By the end of the day, 17 organizations ranging from the NCAA to Major League Baseball, from afterschool programs to leading medical groups, made new commitments to action consistent with the strategies identified in the report.

Event sponsors included the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA and Whistle Sports. Project Play partners include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Nike, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Clinton Foundation, University of Florida Sport Policy & Research Collaborative, and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. Additional thanks to ESPN, USA Bobsled & Skeleton, Wally Haas and William Mayer for their collaboration and support.

See graphical drawings of panels, plus event photos

8:25am   Welcome
Elliot Gerson, Executive Vice President, Aspen Institute
Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

8:30am   Opening Remarks   WATCH
Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., U.S. Surgeon General

8:45am   State of Play   WATCH
Tom Farrey, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program

9:00am   What is Physical Literacy?   WATCH
Robin Schepper, Senior Advisor, Bipartisan Policy Center
With demonstrations by parkour kids, soccer freestyler Indi Cowie

9:10am   What Good Looks Like in Youth Sports (to Kids) WATCH
Moderator: Allyson Felix, Olympic champion sprinter
  • Mo’ne Davis, pitcher, 2014 Little League World Series
  • Madalin Gomez, participant, DC SCORES
  • Bodhi Lovely, Youth Advisory Board Member, Alliance for a Healthier Generation
  • Gabe Shanoff, 8-year-old, Bethesda, MD

9:40am   Project Play Team USA Bobsled – Who’s Jumping In?   WATCH
Darrin Steele, CEO, USA Bobsled & Skeleton
Video montage of national team members describing their "play"   WATCH
10:00am   Seventh floor | “Ask Kids What They Want”
Moderator: Gary Hall Jr., 10-time Olympic gold medalist, swimming
  • Erin Bryant, alumna, DC SCORES
  • Amanda Visek, Associate Professor, Exercise Science, George Washington University School of Public Health
  • John West, Founder and CEO, Whistle Sports
  • Eli Wolff, Director, Inclusive Sports Initiative, Institute for Human Centered Design
Eighth floor | “Reintroduce Free Play”
Moderator: Jay Coakley, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology,
University of Colorado-Colorado Springs
  • Katrina Adams, President, U.S. Tennis Association
  • Dr. Matt Bowers, Clinical Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Education, College of Education, University of Texas
  • Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, Olympic snowboarder
  • Indi Cowie, soccer freestyler
  • Mara Smith, Founder and Principal, Great Play
11:00am   Seventh floor | “Revitalize In-Town Leagues”
Moderator: Sharon Roerty, Senior Program Officer, Childhood Obesity Team,
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Steve Bandura, Little League coach, Taney Dragons (Philadelphia)
  • Chris Green, Professor, College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Adam Hallet, coach of “Roadkill” soccer team (Burlington, Conn.)
  • Stephen Keener, President and CEO, Little League Baseball International
  • Cornell McClellan, Personal Trainer to the First Family
Eighth floor | “Encourage Sport Sampling”
Moderator: Peter Davis, Director, Sports Performance Management
  • Steve Boyle, Director, 2-4-1 Sports
  • David Esquith, Director, Office of Safe and Healthy Students, U.S. Department of Education
  • Tim Morehouse, Olympic silver medalist, and Founder, Fencing in Schools
  • Mary Wittenberg, CEO, New York Road Runners
Noon   Networking Lunch
1:00pm   Seventh floor | “Design for Development”
Moderator: Dr. Brian Hainline, Chief Medical Officer, NCAA
  • Alan Ashley, Chief of Sport Performance, US Olympic Committee
  • Jason Collins, former NBA player
  • David Ogrean, Executive Director, USA Hockey
  • Shale Wong, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado-Denver
Eighth floor | “Emphasize Prevention”
Moderator: Jim Whitehead, Executive Vice President/CEO, American College of Sports Medicine
  • Dr. Robert Cantu, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Jayne Greenberg, District Director of Physical Education and Health Literacy, Miami-Dade County (Fla.) Public Schools
  • Nancy Hogshead-Makar, CEO, Champion Women
  • Stephen Levin, Councilmember, New York City Council
2:00pm   Seventh floor | “Train All Coaches”
Moderator: Terry Liskevych, Oregon State volleyball coach and co-founder, Art of Coaching
  • Janet Carter, Executive Director, Coaching Corps
  • Chris Marinak, Senior Vice President, League Economics and Strategy, Major League Baseball
  • Anthony Robles, NCAA champion wrestler and member of National Wrestling Hall of Fame
  • Deborah Slaner Larkin, CEO, Women’s Sports Foundation
  • Sam Snow, Director of Coaching, U.S. Youth Soccer Association
Eighth floor | “Think Small”
Moderator: Laurence Chalip, Professor and Department Head, College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Abigail Golden-Vazquez, Executive Director, Latinos & Society Program, Aspen Institute
  • Darell Hammond, CEO and Founder, KaBOOM!
  • Dev Pathik, Founder and CEO, Sports Facilities Advisory
  • J.O. Spengler, Professor, Department of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management, University of Florida
  • Barbara Tulipane, CEO and President, National Recreation and Park Association
3:00pm   Physical Activity Break
Cornell McClellan, Personal Trainer to the First Family
3:15pm   Call to Leadership   WATCH
Moderator: Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, Aspen Institute
  • Gary Bettman, Commissioner, National Hockey League
  • Ginny Ehrlich, Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Dean Hovey, CEO, Digifit
  • Caitlin Morris, Senior Director of North America Community Impact, Nike
  • Edwin Moses, Chair, Laureus World Sports Academy
4:15pm   What’s Your Play?   WATCH
Facilitator: Alex Chan, Associate Director, National Strategy, Clinton Health Matters Initiative
Commitments to action were made in each of the eight strategies, and another nine were recognized
4:30pm   Best Ideas of the Summit
Facilitator: Shellie Pfohl
Winning idea emerging from each of the eight activation strategy sessions and as voted on by Summit attendees -- "multi-sport clubs" -- received a Aspen Institute-hosted, Project Play roundtable to be scheduled for later date in 2015 where leaders will be convened to further develop the concept
4:50pm   Closing Remarks + Next Steps
Tom Farrey


October 10, 2014
Dana Point, CA
St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort

A nationally representative survey of parents conducted by espnW and the Aspen Institute's Project Play shows broad and often deep concern about the state of youth sports, on topics ranging from concussion risks to the costs of participation to the quality and behavior of coaches. With results in hand from the espnW/Aspen Institute Project Play survey, we co-hosted a roundtable at the conclusion of The espnW: Women + Sports Summit where thoughts leaders reacted to the findings. The event helped define and elevate the voices of mothers in the conversation around quality youth sports.

For more information, contact program coordinator Risa Isard.

September 24, 2014
Chicago, IL
Navy Pier

Any true commitment to broad-based sports participation begins with infrastructure. Fields. Gyms. Rinks. Rec centers. Bike paths. Build, maintain and secure ‘em, or pay the price later. Federal support for such projects took a serious hit in 1980, and it’s never recovered. Today, we see park and rec departments under significant duress – and the rise of private, specialized athletic facilities whose programming is too expensive for many families. In Chicago, the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program convened 40+ leaders for a Project Play conversation on how to grow the supply of safe play spaces that meet the needs of all children in all communities. Held at Navy Pier on the final day of the Illinois Youth Sports Summit, and on the eve of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Assembly, the dialogue identified breakthrough ideas in funding, collaboration and innovation that can serve urban, suburban and rural communities – each of which face its own distinct challenges. Leaders also considered ways that the hosting of an Olympic Games could best leave a legacy of community facilities.

September 24, 2014

In collaboration with the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, the Illinois Youth Sport Summit convened 64 leaders from across a wide spectrum of state agencies and organizations that are responsible for the design, delivery, and execution of youth sports programming. The two-day summit explored the barriers that impair cooperation across sectors, and began the process of designing and sustaining youth programs that benefit all kids in all communities across Illinois.

As a result of the summit, the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois has now created the Illinois Youth Sport Initiative, which will serve two primary purposes. First, it will provide a platform for sharing resources, insights, and strategies for positive reform of youth sport. Second, it will facilitate formulation and implementation of tactics to achieve such reforms, promoting alliances and collaborations among youth sport providers. The initiative represents the first state-based analog to Project Play, a national effort to reimagine youth sports in a form that delivers universal access to an early positive sports experience.

“The Illinois Youth Sport Summit complements Project Play by inviting state and local policymakers to reimagine youth sport,” said Laurence Chalip, professor and chair of the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois. “We have worked closely with Project Play, and will continue to do so as we roll out the next steps. The partnership between Illinois youth sport policymakers and Project Play is valuable partnership because it strengthens the links among local, state and national efforts to build an inclusive and positive youth sport experience for all young people.”

Chalip, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Project Play advisory group, doctoral student Raquel Hutchinson, Operations Director of the Illinois Youth Sport Summit, and Jarrod Scheunemann, Community Services and Education Coordinator of the Office of Recreation and Park Resources will spearhead the state-based initiative. It will produce a white paper to summarize key ideas from the summit, and is forming working groups to action those ideas. The ideas flowed from the two-day summit at Navy Pier in Chicago, where the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program also hosted a roundtable of 40 leaders, “Fields of Dreams: Innovate and They Will Come?” The events were held on the eve of the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Assembly.

“Designing solutions at the state-based level is important,” said Tom Farrey, executive director of the Sports & Society Program. “Each state has a different set of challenges, barriers, policies, opportunities and resources when it comes to getting kids active through sports, so gathering the key stakeholders from across sectors, from the parks and recreation level up, holds great promise in identifying opportunities for collective action. I look forward to seeing what the initiative develops, as a potential model for other states.”

For more information about the Illinois Youth Sport Summit, visit their website and read Reinventing Youth Sports in Illinois: A Report from the Illinois Youth Sport Summit.

March 14, 2014
Washington, DC
Partnership for a Healthier America

Children who are physically active enjoy a wide range of emotional, physical, cognitive and social benefits, and are far more likely to achieve their full human potential. At the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit -- one of the premier gatherings of leaders working to end childhood obesity -- Tom Farrey discussed how the Aspen Institute's Project Play will get and keep more kids active through the creation of early positive experiences in sports. Joining him to share their work in this space were Matt Geschke, director of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA; Janet Froetscher, CEO of Special Olympics; and Chris Snyder, director of coach education for the U.S. Olympic Committee. 

March 12, 2014
Washington, DC
The Aspen Institute

Over the past year, the Aspen Institute's Project play has begun to reimagine youth sports in America in a form that serves all children and all communities. A series of roundtables has established the value of anchoring our disjointed sports system in the principles of age-appropriate play, of training volunteer coaches in the basic competencies to deliver an early positive experience, and the need to grow sport participation rates among the most vulnerable populations. Now, how can stakeholders deliver scalable progress in each of these channels? Underwritten by Nike through its support of the Designed to Move platform, this roundtable of 30 leaders considered the role of, and opportunities for foundations, government, corporations and the health care sector.

Roundtable summary report (11-page PDF)

February 26, 2014
Mountain View, CA
Google Headquarters

Technology is often blamed for falling participation rates in team sports. But tech isn't going away. So how do we use tech as an asset, and reduce the barriers to an early positive sports experience? This one-day roundtable convened 40+ leaders from the realms of technology, business innovation, sport and academia to develop four emerging ideas that could change the game for kids and youth sports, one of the few industries whose model has yet to be disrupted (for the better) by technology. The event, underwritten by the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and hosted at Google, included a featured talk with Google senior executive Gopi Kallayil, who inspired attendees by drawing connnections to the company's eight points of innovation.

Event summary report (10-page PDF)

February 13, 2014
Lake Buena Vista, FL
ESPN Wide World of Sports

Event Summary (9-page PDF)

Consolidated Recommendations of Medical/Health Groups (7-page PDF)

Pediatricians, sports medicine doctors and researchers have valuable recommendations and insights on how to properly engage and protect children in sports – insights rarely considered by parents and sport organizers.  This one-day event convened about 50 leaders from medicine, sport, academia and business innovation to address the role of medical professionals in informing the decision-making process in youth sports.

The dialogue identified opportunities to integrate medical/health professionals into the structure of sport bodies, and grow the quality and quantity of resources that can provide care for youth athletes. Participants also expressed support for holding off on tackle football until age 14. Helping to inform the day's conversation was the University of Florida’s SPARC, which consolidated the recommendations made by 11 medical and health groups on topics related to children’s sport activity –- from sport specialization to physical activity.

The roundtable was held in conjunction with the Developing the Healthy Athlete conference, with space provided by Disney/ESPN Wide World of Sports. Event sponsors were the American College of Sports Medicine; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Council on Exercise; Platinum Performance; Broad & Cassel, and the World Sports Institute.