past event

Postponed – Future of Sports … if Designed by Women

As a precaution related to the global outbreak of COVID-19, this event has been postponed. Our priority is the health and wellbeing of our speakers, participants, attendees, and staff. New dates for the event will be announced in due course. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact for more information.

In late 2019, the story of high school phenom runner Mary Cain shook the sports world. Cain, now 23, experienced disordered eating and emotional abuse in pursuit of athletic success. She alleged that, as a member of the most elite training program in the country, her all-male coaching team was ill-equipped to coach a teenage girl and broke her down physically and mentally.

Other female athletes and advocates came forward with their stories too and sparked #FixGirlsSports on Twitter. Some placed blame on a win-at-all-costs sports model built originally for men. “We do not currently have a sports system built for girls,” wrote Lauren Fleshman, a former long-distance track champion. “If we did, it would look very different – and it would benefit everyone.”

On March 27, the Aspen Institute will explore that notion: What would a sports system built for girls look like? Further, how might the delivery of sports in general change as more women, still rare in the C-suites of sport organizations, assume leadership positions?

Speakers include Cain, a former world junior champion middle-distance runner, and U.S. Olympic figure skating medalist Gracie Gold. Gold struggled with her mental health and an eating disorder, and has since returned to her sport with an eye toward the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Confirmed speakers (additional speakers will be added):

  • Mary Cain, World and U.S. track and field champion
  • Gracie Gold, U.S. figure skating Olympic medalist
  • Liz Clarke, Washington Post sports reporter
  • Jane McManus, Marist College Center for Sport Communication director, New York Daily News columnist
  • NiCole Keith, American College of Sports Medicine president, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis kinesiology professor

Future of Sports is a quarterly conversation series by the Sports & Society Program that helps stakeholders think through key questions shaping the future of our games, the sports industry and its impact on society. Past events examined the future of football, college athlete pay, government’s role in college athlete pay, sports betting, athlete activism, coaching, and the U.S. Olympic movement. If interested in funding Future of Sports in 2020, contact Sports & Society Program Editorial Director Jon Solomon at

Thank you to The Washington Post for its support as media partner of the Future of Sports series.

Event information
Fri Mar 27, 2020
The Aspen Institute
2300 N St. NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC
Watch the replay here