Global Need to Put Play Back Into Sports

March 18, 2023

The need for quality sport sampling programs, ones that put play back into sports, is a global crisis.

While the following is in no particular order, these “events”, all from my past two days, illustrate just how global ⸺ and local ⸺ the need and demand really is.

  • I’m starting to write this at 8:38 a.m. and have already been to two of our 2-4-1 TOP Self Sport school sites in Hartford (we are currently programming in five Hartford area schools).
  • I have a call later this morning with a colleague in Reykjavik, Iceland (believe it or not, to talk about expanding our programs in Philadelphia).
  • Yesterday, I did a 60 minute training webinar with our partner in Zambia, Africa but needed to keep bouncing between Zoom and WhatsApp because of bandwidth limitations on his end.
  • We received word of funding support that will allow us to present next month in Dallas, Texas at the Magnet Schools of America Conference (with more than 1000 schools from around the U.S. represented).
  • Had a call finish at 9 p.m. (my time) with a new contact in Tokyo who is interested in helping us grow our global presence ⸺ both in Japan and the United States.
  • Confirmed being a guest to the Project Play Western NY Sport Sampling Working group (out of Buffalo) that meets tomorrow morning to talk about our approach and ways we can support their team’s work.
  • Finalized and submitted a proposal with our SEL consultant to present at the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) national conference in Atlanta next fall. 
  • Heard from a colleague who wants to partner with us this summer on programming in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the South Bronx.
  • Finalized details with our Camp Director in New Westminster, BC (just outside of Vancouver, Canada) and opened up registration for summer 2023 today!
  • Had a meeting with our Camp Director in Boulder to review how a recent Pop-Up Camp went and discuss plans for two weeks this summer, and will have one in a few hours with our Camp Director in Denver.
  • Worked on registration and webpage for a mental health awareness program we’ll be offering with our friends from Fleet Feet Hartford in May in honor of a friend who died from suicide.
  • Discussed curriculum and programming with our 2-4-1 Hartbeat Youth Run Club starting back up at Bushnell Park next month.
  • Have met with two area teacher/coaches interested in becoming lead coaches of our 2-4-1 Fencing program (we start at yet another new school tomorrow with a class of twenty-five second-fifth graders -see the news clip from NBC CT at bottomr regarding the program).
  • Did an update of enrollment with our administrative team and determined that our summer camp enrollment numbers are up 165 percent over last year at this time (many programs are on waitlists already).

But one of my favorite moments of the week was when one of our fifth grade Physical Literacy Pals (PLPs) excitedly approached me on only his third day of programming as he couldn’t wait to share a story about recess earlier that day. 

“Mister, mister… today, my friend was getting really mad when we were playing and I could tell he wanted to get in a fight with someone else. I just pulled him aside and told him to put one hand on his heart and one hand on his belly and to take deep breaths like you taught us. I did it with him ⸺ and we both calmed down. I taught him TOP Self. It really works!”

That, my friends, happens with children everywhere we go. And, they either have skills to manage ⸺ or they don’t. What that fifth grader reminded me was that the work we are doing is just so important. Sport is the absolute best setting to teach leadership, build the skills of social emotional learning, and to remind children that sports are meant to be played. We are thrilled to be programming year round, but have a sense of urgency now about wanting to reach more kids more quickly because there are so many kids that need these skills. Whether we’re in Hartford, Philadelphia, Denver, Charlotte, Canada, Zambia, kids are kids and sports should be fun and should be used to teach kids self control, self awareness and to build relationships responsibly. We feel blessed to have created a model that does this for them, but we really want to reach more kids in more communities. So, let’s see what the next 48 hours brings!! 

Thank you all for believing in our approach and keeping wind in our sails on this journey.


About Steve Boyle

Steve Boyle is a visionary leader and advocate for youth sports and physical literacy. As the Executive Director of 2-4-1 CARE, Inc. and Co-Founder/Director of 2-4-1 Sports, Steve stands at the forefront of the movement to transform the youth sports paradigm. His forward-thinking anti-specialization approach has garnered acclaim from esteemed institutions like the Aspen Institute. At the helm of 2-4-1, Steve has skillfully guided its expansion from its flagship location in West Hartford, Connecticut, to a range of locations across the U.S., Canada, and Africa. His leadership has not only scaled the program but also redefined the standards of youth sports Beyond the scope of 2-4-1 Sports, Steve’s influence extended to developing the National Association of Physical Literacy, where his insights as Advisory Board Chair were pivotal. His tenure as Global Lead on Physical Literacy and Athletics for Whittle School & Studios marked a significant contribution to the global community, shaping the athletic and physical education frameworks across campuses in Shenzhen and Washington, D.C. Steve is equally known for merging his expertise in counseling with his coaching acumen to create the TOP Self social-emotional learning platform. This innovative endeavor leverages sports to impart essential social-emotional learning skills, cementing Steve’s status as a national authority in physical literacy development.


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