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Solve for <x>
When it comes to creating better sport experiences for youth, reducing childhood obesity, and building a fitter nation, we have to acknowledge that we don't really know how to do this yet. Efforts made by educators, governments, national sport bodies, and a countless number of other individuals are first attempts. Some will succeed, others won't.
The Solve for <X> tagline that Google attaches to some of its more ambitious projects provides a good example of trying to answer the question what if we could do this? and then devising ways to do it. In the video below the Apollo program is used as an example of this kind of thinking. When U.S. President John Kennedy committed to going to the moon in the early 1960s nobody knew how to do it, but over the next several years they devised a plan and the hardware to make such a trip.
Some might argue that figuring out how to make youth sport programs better and more efficient is not in the same class as a moonshot. But if you step back and take a look at the big picture you might change your mind because of what better youth sport programs would mean to young participants and their opportunities to live a long and healthy life.
Better sport experiences for youngsters don't start when they join a youth sport. The process starts much earlier so that each child first becomes physically literate and then, if they're interested in sports, they have the foundational movements necessary to participate successfully. If they're not interested in sport then they will at least have the skills they need to lead a healthy life.
What if we could use the knowledge we have about talent creation and apply it to all youth sport programs? What would this look like?
What if we recognized the need for children to be physically literate and then created ways for this to actually happen?
One thing about these questions is that while many may agree on their intent no one, as far as I know, really knows how to make these things happen. Our sport structures are fragmented and there are vying interests that make any kind of sustained, unified action for change unlikely. But this does not mean that there aren't those who are trying to figure it out, being bothered by the challenge, and solving for <X>.
Bill Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the owner and Chief Data Scientist at Sportkid Metrics.