Many people agree that youth sports in this country are suffering. Participation rates for most sports are declining, and an estimated 70% of young participants drop out of sports before reaching high school. The list of concerns is long and often discouraging. Instead of searching for scapegoats and assigning blame, we need to admit that the system is broken, seek out and examine alternative models, acknowledge successful strategies, and begin redesigning youth sports in this country.

Illinois has the opportunity to become a national leader in the movement to reform youth sports. In cooperation with the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Assembly, The University of Illinois is hosting a two-day summit that will bring together individuals from various agencies and organizations within the state that are responsible for the design, delivery, and execution of youth sports. The goal is to break down the barriers that prohibit cooperation across sectors, and begin an open dialogue regarding the most pressing challenges in the process of designing and sustaining successful youth programs that benefit all participants.

This is not another boring series of lectures or PowerPoint presentations. Everyone will be an active participant, contributing his or her knowledge and experience to the conversation through a series of roundtable workshops. Experts from the field will introduce and discuss topics, and guests will have the opportunity to discuss and build off these ideas and perspectives in small working groups.

Topics Will Include:

  • Developing Collaboration Across Sectors
  • Designing Programs that Keep Kids in Sports
  • Innovative Programming Strategies
  • All-Inclusive Sport Opportunities
  • Resourcing Challenges
  • Sport for Positive Youth Development

Participants Will Represent the Following Sectors:

  • Parks and Recreation
  • Schools
  • Elite Athlete Development
  • Sport and Recreation Clubs
  • Coaching
  • Intervention Programs

This summit will be an opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities, to explore alternative models of sport delivery, to develop innovative strategies, and to establish necessary connections and relationships. This is the beginning of a larger process — those in attendance will set an agenda and determine the necessary next steps towards policy action and reform that will improve the quality of youth sport programming and delivery throughout the state.