Multi-Sport Play: What Next?

Project Play Roundtables

At the 2015 US Open, the Aspen Institute convened sport and media leaders to explore opportunities to encourage sport sampling among children, as outlined in the third strategy of the Project Play report, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game. The pair of roundtables came in the wake of an "endorsement" of multi-sport play by 28 national sport governing bodies, five professional leagues, and other organizations. Led by the US Tennis Association, the statement was announced in a PSA published Aug. 10 in the Sports Business Journal. It represents the first collective effort by the sports industry to mobilize around a key strategy in the Project Play report, and an unprecedented move to jointly address falling sport participation rates.

A press event at the US Open helped to share the message more widely. Joining Tom Farrey was boxing champion Laila Ali, New York Rangers captain and Olympian Ryan McDonagh, Olympic all-around gymnastics gold medalist Nastia Liukin, and USTA chief marketing officer Sue Hunt.

The roundtable and related activities help build momentum for sport sampling in sport and medical circles. In September 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics cited the work of Project Play in issuing a position paper recommending that its 60,000 members advise against sport specialization until at least age 15.


"Encourage Sport Sampling" -- the third strategy in Project Play report on how to reimagine youth sports in America

"Sport Specializaton and Intensive Training in Young Athletes," position paper by the American Academy of Pediatrics (Sept. 2016)

"What Does the Science Say About Athletic Development in Children?" -- research report for Aspen Institute by SPARC on sport specialization vs. multi-sport play

"Physical Literacy in the United States: A Model, Strategic Plan, and Call to Action" -- Aspen Institute deep dive report on a promising concept

News coverage: espnW | NPR Morning Edition | CBS This Morning | Sports Business Journal | USA Today | BloombergBusiness | The Big LeadHuffington Post | SI for Kids | Parents Magazine | The Post-Game | USA Hockey

Athlete observations: Wayne Gretzky | Victoria Azarenka | Derek Stepan

Panel discussion on sport sampling -- video from 2015 Project Play Summit, featuring: 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, (former) CEO, New York Road Runners

"See Who's Playing" -- partial list of groups taking actions consistent with Project Play report

American Development Model -- Inspired by Project Play, the US Olympic Committee released a handbook offering NGBs, clubs, coaches and parents guidance on implementing age-appropriate play.