March 10, 2020

Huddle Up March: End the Madness – Time to Find Some Solutions

March is for sure a month of madness here at Project Play WNY.  Like most WNYers, we love a good game of basketball, but when it comes to sports, Project Play WNY is always shooting for something a little different from what we see on TV (pun absolutely intended). Our work over the past few years uncovers a maddening trend in our region that more and more kids are getting priced out, pushed out or burnt out of youth sports.

This month, the 100 or so individuals that makeup the Project Play WNY movement will be hard at work trying to find solutions to some of the most problematic parts of the 21st Century Youth Sports culture. As March is Women’s History Month, we started the month by discussing participation opportunities for girls. On March 4, we attended the State of Michigan’s Task Force on Women and Sport.  Participating in the Task Force’s meeting was a good chance for Project Play WNY to hear how that state is strategizing to address the socio-economic gap of sport participation for girls. Like WNY, girls of all backgrounds in Michigan have lower participation rates than boys, especially as they enter high schools. What we learned in Lansing is that participation is lowest among girls from lower socio-economic status. That is why Project Play WNY will continue to participate in the Michigan discussions and The Equity Project through the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), which further focuses on women, sport, and opportunities or lack thereof. Last week, WSF, released Keeping Girls in the Game: Factors that Influence Sport Participation, a new, national research report examining the social influences on youth entry, retention and drop out from sports. As noted in the report, the gains WSF helped achieve since the passage of Title IX may be at risk if girls from poorer backgrounds are priced out of sports.

The decline in youth sports participation for both boys and girls is the topic of two events that Project Play is hosting at the end of this month. On March 27, we host our first-ever Project Play WNY Solutions Session; the limited seating event will address three key access issues in youth sports. We have invited those who work in youth sports to help us develop solutions that we can implement in our region. The next day, March 28th, we will share the outcome of the Solutions Session at our large Community Conversation.  A wide array of speakers, including former ESPN Reporter Tom Farrey and Buffalo Bills Defensive Tackle Harrison Phillips are taking part. The focus of the event will be to spark discussion, share information and inspire WNY residents who have an interest in youth sports. This event is free and open to the public, and mini-grants are available to those organizations who bring 10 or more representatives.

For more information on all the work Project Play WNY has planned, please checkout out our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram pages.  Hope to see you all on March 28.