A survey by North Carolina State
University, in partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Project Play and Utah State University, underscores the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout might impact
A majority of sports parents (70.3 percent) said they will allow their children to resume their sports activities at the same or greater amount and level as before, but more than half of those surveyed (54 percent) said their finances have been impacted negatively and almost half (49.5 percent) fear their children will get sick if they return to sports.
Sightly less parents (45.7 percent) were worried that they would get sick if their children started playing sports again.
The survey of 1,050 adults was conducted in the first week of May and sampled parents who self-identified as having a child between ages 8-18 who played organized sports in the past year.
Parents were much more comfortable with their children playing on their own (shooting baskets or bike riding) or in pickup games or playing at school (two-thirds or more) than playing a travel sport that took their children outside their hometown or county (51.5 percent).
Any number of factors could contribute to that greater reticence: finances or lack of comfort level with mingling with children and families they don't know, less emphasis on or interest in a travel sport.
“This may be an ominous sign for the travel sports industry, at least in the immediate aftermath of the COVID pandemic,” said Dr. Travis Dorsch, founding director of the Utah State University Families in Sport Lab, told the Aspen Institute’s Project Play. “These data may be a signal that families are looking to scale back, to stay closer to home, and to spend less money on youth sport experiences for their children.”
That social aspect of youth sports was underscored when 76 percent of all parents surveyed said the most significant impact of the loss of sports was the lack interaction their children had with teammates.