A survey of more than 10,000 people involved in youth sports nationwide reveals that parents are ready to see their children travel again for sports and they will expect venues to have concrete plans in place for the health of their guests on site.

The scientific survey was conducted by Grand Park Research Hub, which is part of the Grand Park multisport complex in Westfield, Indiana, along with the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute.

“In some cases, as we open back up, facility investments may or may not be expected,” said William Knox, director of the Grand Park Sports Campus. “The information we have gleaned from this research is critical to event operators and organizations to create meaningful opportunities for athletes and their families to participate in sports again.”

The study was led by David Pierce, director of the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute and an associate professor of sports management in the School of Health and Human Sciences at IUPUI. The results assessed the feelings of parents, athletes, coaches, officials and administrators toward 12 adaptations being considered and implemented by venues for restarting youth sports programs.

Among the key findings:

  • Venues and events should invest heavily and visibly in sanitization of facilities, playing areas and equipment. This should take place before, during and after events.
  • Venue users will expect sanitized playing areas and equipment after each use.
  • Venues should promote social-distance guidelines and monitor attendees to ensure they are following the rules.
  • Parents will expect that personal contact between players will be limited.
  • Admission to events should be limited to those under age 65 with no underlying medical conditions.
  • People attending venues for youth sports will expect to complete a health and contact information questionnaire prior to entering.
  • Sentiment regarding face masks was mixed, with strong feelings about the use and non-use of face masks.
  • Limiting entry to athletes and game personnel but excluding spectators was not well-received by survey respondents, especially parents.
  • 59 percent of travel sports parents reported that the pandemic will not negatively impact their sports travel budget.
  • Parents of travel-sport athletes have an increased comfort level in traveling for competitions over the summer months, from 42 percent in May to 76 percent in August.

“COVID-19 has impacted all areas of life, and youth sports is no exception,” Pierce said. “Our study’s results provide youth sports facilities and event operators with data on how specific adaptations are received by stakeholders who are looking to return to youth sports in a timely but safe manner.”

Of the 10,359 people surveyed across from 45 states (and representing at least 13 sports), nearly 92 percent were parents. With the option to select multiple roles, respondents also included coaches (25 percent), administrators (10 percent), athletes (9 percent) and officials (3 percent).

For a full copy of the report, click here.