Survey finds 50 percent of parents worry about their child's health if they return to playing sports

Jack Baer
·2-min read

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic isn’t only being felt at the highest level of sports.

A survey of parents with children ages 8 to 18 who have played organized sports in the past year indicates that fear of the pandemic will play a large factor in when youth leagues can return, and that those leagues shouldn’t expect all of their participants back.

The study was conducted in mid-May by North Carolina State University in partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, Utah State University and George Mason University.

The results came via the Aspen Institute, which found that 50 percent of parents worry their child will get sick if they they return to action when coronavirus restrictions are lifted. 46 percent of parents were also reportedly worried they would become ill themselves.

An empty Little League baseball field is shown in Washingtonville, N.Y., Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Mike DeLuca envisioned his youngest son, John, capping his baseball career the same way most 12-year-old All-Star squads from Monroeville, Pennsylvania, had for the last two decades: with a week spent playing teams from all over the country at Cooperstown Dreams Park in early August. Then the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States and the shutdowns began. (AP Photo/Paul Kazdan)
The cancellation of the Little League World Series is just one of the ways the coronavirus pandemic has been felt in youth sports. (AP Photo/Paul Kazdan)

The impact was most seen from African-American respondents, where 59 percent were worried about their child falling ill and 56 were concerned about themselves. That’s not a surprising skew given how much more severely the black community has felt the effects of the pandemic.

In fact, only 58 percent of African-American parents reportedly anticipated their child returning to the same or higher level of sports participation once allowed, as opposed to 73 percent of white respondents and 66 percent of Hispanic respondents.

From the Aspen Institute:

“This isn’t surprising given the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans,” said Dr. Michael Kanters, a sport management professor at NC State University and the survey’s lead investigator. “The results also suggest that as we plan to restart youth sport programs across the country, there should be a greater emphasis on sport opportunities that are more inclusive to all members of the community.”

Possibly the most ominous numbers for the sports world came from the question of whether or not the children were interested at all in participating again.

The survey reportedly found 19 percent of parents saying their children had lost interest in playing their sport during the shutdown, and that 18 percent indicated their child does not plan to return to playing when the shutdown is over.

With nearly a fifth of parents reporting their children has lost interest in playing their sport — as well as the possibility that the economic burden felt by so many during the pandemic will lead to fewer being able to afford the price of modern youth sports — we could be seeing another industry being forever changed by this shutdown.

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