ESPN Town Hall on Kids & Sports at the Clinton Health Matters Conference

An Aspen Institute Project Play Conversation

ESPN Town Hall LogoHow do we get and keep more kids active in sports into the teenage years? On the opening night of the Clinton Health Matters Conference and in partnership with ESPN, President Clinton led a conversation on the central question of the Aspen Institute's Project Play with 15-time NBA All Star Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players in basketball history. Tom Farrey, director of the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and ESPN reporter, also moderated panels featuring Major League Baseball All-Star Matt Kemp, Olympic champion sprinter Allyson Felix, NFL great and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, and U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun.

ESPN taped the Town Hall before a live, invitation-only audience of 400 health leaders and kids, and aired a one-hour, prime time special Feb. 9 on ESPN2. Watch video clips from each of the panels at the links below, and join the conversation on Twitter at #KidsAndSports and @AspenInstSports #ProjectPlay.

"(Sports) made a huge difference to me because it made me feel comfortable with being with other people, " Clinton told ESPN's Mike Greenberg in his moderated conversation with Bryant. "A lot of kids are just uncomfortable in school. You play a few games and you're not so uncomfortable anymore. It's a way of belonging. It's a way of having a common language without having to open your mouth."

Bryant came to the conversation from the perspective of both a father to two daughters and as a world-class athlete. Before the event, he said, "Today's kids are the least active in history and, dropping out of sports at alarming rates. I'm excited to join the Aspen Institute Project Play dialogue and partner with President Clinton, Nike and ESPN at the upcoming Clinton Health Matters conference to bring attention to the need for universal access and early positive experiences in sports and play." The Clinton Foundation is a partner in Project Play.

During the Town Hall, Blackmun explained how the USOC will act on one of the breakthrough ideas explored during a Project Play event in September. He announced a Clinton Foundation commitment to action, with the USOC and U.S. Paralympics pledging to introduce the "American Development Model," a comprehensive and collaborative initiative that will seek to unify National Governing Bodies and community programs in keeping Americans active in sport longer.

The model combines sport, play, education and health through a five-stage pathway that supports a positive sport experience based on the individual’s physical, mental and emotional development. Through its commitment to the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, the USOC will engage all 47 NGBs (national sport governing bodies) to endorse the American Development Model. Resources will include a dedicated presence at, coaching workshops, and educational materials to help guide parents, coaches, administrators and athletes."

Also at the Clinton conference, Nike announced it will continue its partnership with the Aspen Institute to address the physical inactivity epidemic in today’s youth. Through its “Designed to Move” platform, Nike will support the convening of leaders in the sports world to develop scalable solutions that address seven key indicators of early sports experiences -– access, age appropriateness, dosage and duration, fun, incentives and motivation, participant feedback, and coaching and education.

The solutions identified and developed through Project Play will be captured in a report to be released by the Aspen Institute at the end of the year.


The State Of Kids And Sports
This feature explores the statistics and facts about kids' participation in sports in the U.S.

Panel discussion: The Challenges
Tom Farrey hosts a panel discussion with Matt Kemp, Allyson Felix, Herschel Walker and Scott Blackmun

President Clinton + Kobe Bryant
Mike Greenberg moderates a conversation about the role sports played in their lives, and that of American kids everywhere

Panel discussion: The Solutions
Farrey asks Matt Kemp, Allyson Felix, Herschel Walker and Scott Blackmun how to improve youth sports

What Kids Think
Greenberg and Julie Foudy ask children how staying active has affected their lives



ESPN's Kids and Sports page

Town Hall photo gallery

"Bringing Sport into the Health Conversation," by Tom Farrey, blog post on Clinton Foundation website (1/13/13)

News release announcing event details (1/10/13)

Associated Press news story announcing the town hall at Clinton Foundation press conference (12/17/13)

Aspen Ideas blog by Karen Sommer Shalett, on 2014 duPont Award winner Tom Farrey and journalism informing work of Project Play (12/18/13) 

WATCH Scott Blackmun discusses the U.S. Olympic Committee's role in improving youth sports at Project Play launch summit (4/18/13)