I am going to try to create a single sprint which will span across all the projects... as opposed to creating sprints within each of the projects individually... my theory (untested still) is that at the end of the sprint I can Complete the sprint and it will do it across all the projects at the same time.
Yes you can. You need to start with a Filter that has all the Issues in it that you want. Save it and share it out to the people that need to participate in the Sprint. Then create a new Agile Board and use that saved Filter on the Board. I would expect you will need to use advanced JQL in order to set the Filter up the way you need it.
Note: Depending on the version of Jira you're running, you need to have either "Administrator Projects" or "Manage Sprints" Permissions on ALL Projects that appear in the Filter or you will not be able to start, stop or make changes to the Sprint. I do mean all of them. If you have one issue from a Project that you don't have this permission on, you will not be able to manage the Sprint.
Putting my consultant hat on, I have to question why you would want to have every issue in your Jira instance on a Board. This will make your Backlog really unmanageable. I would recommend that you set up the Filter to have only the Issues you want in the Backlog, rather than bring in a ton of cruft that is not relevant. You are correct about the behavior of Sprints. An Issue can only be in one Sprint at a time. When you create this new Board, Issues that are already part of a Sprint will pre-poulate their Sprints in the new Board. This allows you to mark a Sprint finished on one Board and have the change take place on all Boards that contain the issues in that Sprint.
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