The Impact of Local Sports Communities – A LeagueApps discussion with ESPN and Project Play’s Tom Farrey
July 14, 2014
At LeagueApps, there’s more to what we do than the usual ins and outs of everyday work life. Our team is constantly engaging with leaders in the sports community. These conversations allow us to learn more about how we can have an impact in local sports communities.
A few weeks ago during our OTAs (Organized Team Activities, or what others might refer to as team meetings), we had the distinct pleasure of a visit from ESPN journalist and Aspen Institute Project Director Tom Farrey.
Project Play is focused on understanding why youth are participating less in sport, and making recommendations on how to create “Sports for All, Play for Life” communities. LeagueApps President Jeremy Goldberg helped lead the Project Play working group on technology’s role in the future of youth sports.
Tom’s discussion with the team further reinforced the impact that we can have on local sports communities.
Here are some highlights of his talk:
Only THREE out of every TEN children in the United States are involved in youth athletic programs
The goal of Project Play is to significantly increase participation rates among youth. This is not going to be an easy feat to accomplish, but with the proper awareness anything is possible. So how to we actually overcome this problem?
Create universal access to a positive sport experience for all children
Younger athletes do not respond to the same type of training as their older counterparts. The lessons that are learned in the early years of sports tend to be focused on fundamentals over competition. Great coaching and age appropriate play is crucial to ensure that youth of all ages have great initial experiences and make sport and physical fitness a permanent part of their lives.
Take a look at USA Hockey, a leader in promoting an American Development Model for youth that is focused on creating age appropriate sports experiences
Bring back free play
The days of pickup baseball or soccer in the park after school seem to be a thing of the past. A major hurdle for parents trying to get their children involved in programs is simply how much they cost. With no certainty that their child will even enjoy the sport that they have been signed up for, it is hard for some parents to make this commitment. Free play for the younger years of athleticism will not only alleviate this stress, but also present opportunities for children to find a sport they truly love.
Properly trained coaches
Most coaches have never received the proper training required to grow and develop an athlete in the early stages of development. There are tons of opportunities out there for coaches to hone their skills. Better coaches lead to better experiences, for the players and their parents.
Check out how U.S. Soccer enables their coaches to be better.
Commit to inclusion
While elite level programs are fantastic at developing the highest caliber athletes, not every child is going to fall into that category. Some parents want their children to play simply for the love of the game. There should be a place for every child that wants to experience sport. The AYSO is an example of an organization that was created with a focus on providing positive soccer experiences for youth.
Create a safer experience
Recently, the media has been highlighting the short and long term effects that head trauma have on children and adults alike. It is safe to say that some parents are just too scared to let their child play in an environment that could result in serious injury. Fortunately enough, many programs are combating this by limiting the level of physical contact between players.
There is a program out there for each and every child in the local communities
LeagueApps has the distinct pleasure of working with them each and every day. Most, if not all of these recommendations are already being endorsed and incorporated by local sports programs around the country.
We are excited to work with our partners to leverage technology to increase participation in sport and ensure the best experiences for all participants – whether it’s a child just starting out or an adult who makes time in their busy schedules to play in leagues and tournaments.
Let us know how we can work together to achieve these goals. Head over to Project Play for a wealth of insightful videos and articles. Drop us a line below and contribute to the conversation!