• Play Like a Champion

National Conference Charts a New Course for Youth Sports

Updated: Jun 27, 2018

Notre Dame, Indiana— On June 22nd and 23rd leaders of youth sports organizations from around the country will gather at the University Dame to hear from experts in the fields of child psychology, pediatrics, ethics, education, and communications and to discuss ways in which sports can better serve the needs of children at the Play Like a Champion Today Leadership Conference. This year’s conference theme, “Champions for Life: Winning Together,” underscores a shared conviction among the participants that only by working together can youth sports organizations across the country establish a culture of service to children.

Featured conference speakers include Dr. Joe Congeni, the Director of Sports Medicine at Akron Children’s Hospital, a widely known advocate healthy youth sports participation; Kathleen Hessert, a former television anchor and the founder of Sports Media Challenge; Mike Brey, Notre Dame’s Men’s Basketball coach, voted Coach of the Year in 2012; and Darrin and Debra Brown, leaders of the Chicago Wolfpack youth basketball program and recipients of Play Like a Champion’s 2015 Rich O’Leary Community Sports award.

Play Like a Champion program is an independent non-profit organization, founded by Clark Power, a professor in Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies whose research and scholarship focus on child development and character education through sports. Play Like a Champion partners with sports organizations from around the country to provide research–based coach and parent education emphasizing character development and civic responsibility. Through its leadership conferences, Play Like a Champion is building a national community of concerned youth sports administrators and parents who believe that all children, regardless of their athletic ability or parents’ income, deserve a quality youth sports experience.

This year’s conference calls upon youth sports leaders and supports to explore the adverse impact of “pay to play sports” on economically struggling communities throughout the United States. Whereas youth sports were once accessible to all children whether they played pickup games in safe playgrounds and parks or on community funded organized teams, youth sports are now so expensive that they are becoming a privilege for the privileged. This year’s Play Like a Champion conference challenges its leaders to chart a new course for youth sports that will guarantee that all children play in a safe and welcoming environment.

For more information on the Play Like a Champion conference and program visit the Play Like a Champion Today website:

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