In a recent survey of nearly 2,000 sports parents, several key themes emerged around the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 impacting the short-term accessibility of sport due to cost, that incredibly active kids have lost motivation and are experiencing negative mental health impacts as free time has shifted to video games and online only contact, and that while ultimately sports families are keen for a return, there is an expectation of safety guidelines being implemented to ensure the safety of their kids while playing, which will change our game and practice routines. Finally, we've combined this survey with our ongoing tracking of the status of sports and the guidelines from various organizations - read more Game On: Return to Sports.
First, as parents begin to look to a return to a “new normal” in youth sports, cost is expected to be a major factor in determining family involvement once practices and games resume. Nearly 40% of parents shared that household income had decreased due to COVID-19, leaving many parents to stress about the costs of sports and the potential need for financial assistance to keep kids involved. Over 30% believe they will need financial assistance if fees increase this year due to the new rules and guidelines around sport. With 75% concerned there will be fewer fundraising options in the community, brands who step up to fill the gap will win, as 85% of parents plan to shop with brands who give back to youth sports. At FlipGive we have created a list of the funding sources we are aware of by sport to help organizations and parents with the cost.
Second, this time has been hard on every family, and especially kids. The mental health of kids is a major concern of parents as they deal with the ramifications of being pushed to the sidelines for nearly 3 months. It was revealed that 75% of parents agree their kids have been less active, 77% have replaced physical activity with more screen time, and 63% feel this has had a negative impact on mental health. It’s clear that sport fills an incredibly important role in the mental and physical health of children.
Stay-at-home orders saw the locker room shift to digital and parents needed to download and learn many new apps to help kids stay in contact with teammates. Close to 60% used Zoom and texting, and nearly 40% kept in touch through video games like Fortnite and Roblox. 3 months ago it’s safe to say many parents were not overly familiar with app brands such as TikTok, Houseparty, Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and more, with many of those apps spending the last 3 months at the top of the download charts for good reason. Thankfully many families also celebrated milestones through traditional means such as phone calls or driving past a house to honk and cheer.
Third, and perhaps most surprising, parents are not gating the return to sport with the need for a vaccine, with 90% ready to start back without one. 50% of families expect to return as soon as they can, with about 5% noting they are already fully back. Only 25% of parents are concerned about other families judging their decisions. Game and practice days should look different as health screens and temperature checks are expected by the majority to be a new role for team volunteers, with 45% agreeing with eliminating locker room time and having physical distancing between kids enforced by staff.
There does appear to be consensus of what may change with regards to team activities this season. Over 60% expect fewer practices and games, 45% no travel and 37% believe tournaments should be cancelled. 80% will feel comfortable watching in person, but that drops to 45% being comfortable at team meals.
Finally, when asked to describe what they were most looking forward to with a return to sports, most referenced the overwhelmingly positive impact of sport and the community bonds created that are greatly missed by the entire family. Across sports, many refer to the distancing from “sports families” and the lack of structure from a busy schedule as creating a gap in family life. It's clear that the lack of sport creates a deep void in the lives of families everywhere.
In summary, the time away from sport has been incredibly tough on the mental health of our kids and our parents. The positive impact of a return to sport on kids mentally and physically is needed now more than ever. While many have stayed somewhat connected digitally, nothing compares to the feeling of being back on the court, field, ice or stage, surrounded by teammates, with parents and grandparents watching and cheering from the sidelines. With the negative economic impact of COVID, companies should absolutely prioritize investing in youth sports to help make the game accessible to every child and every family.
Survey Response Data Highlights - Infographic:
Concern over cost of youth sport outpaces fear of COVID
- 90% of respondents are fine to return to youth sport with no vaccine available
- 40% of households report reduced income
- 57% worry sports will be more expensive
- Nearly 30% believe they will need financial assistance if costs increase
- 3/4 of parents fear the virus will reduce their fundraising opportunities
- Parents already using FlipGive to fundraise for the coming season on personal accounts while they wait for direction from leagues and clubs
Parents weighing mental health impact of inactivity
- 2/3rds of parents surveyed by FlipGive feel the interruption of youth sports has had a negative impact on their child
- Half of parents want to return to sport as soon a possible
- 25% of children have lost interest in their primary sport but 75% of parents expect them to return
Digital locker room introduced
- Teams are hanging out online, 60% Zoom / Streaming, 40% on Video Games
- Virtual training was something many were introduced to; kudos to leagues and clubs for experimenting with ideas
- Digital connections should continue with a return to sport
Game Day Changes
- 55% would like mandatory temperature checks before practices and games
- 45% want to eliminate locker room time
- 45% want physical distancing enforced by team staff
- 30% want smaller rosters and players on at the same time
- Over 50% expect no travel
- Close to 40% expect tournaments to be cancelled
- However, close to 60% do not want masks to be mandatory
Parents keen on watching kids play, taking a pass on team meals
- 80% feel comfortable watching games in person
- 60% expect fewer practices and games
- Close to 30% expect to prioritize more balanced lives
- Only 45% comfortable with in person team meals
- Prefer to keep locker rooms closed
We ended the survey by asking parents what they were most excited about with a return to sports. The responses were a joy to read through and made us more excited than ever about a return to sport
- Watching them play
- Our team is our family!!! We love spending time together as a team and can't wait to do so.
- Getting back to some type of normal. Seeing my daughter back on the court and sand playing the sport she so loves and misses.
- Seeing teammates again and doing what they love
- The excitement of watching and cheering for our grandson and his team play baseball and the excitement of our son continuing to excel in minor league baseball umpiring.
- Seeing my daughter thrive at the sport she loves
- My daughters lack of physical activity has greatly impacted her mental health in a negative way
- Watching my son play baseball and improve his skills.
- The way Normal is supposed to be...not this NEW NORM Bullcrap!
- Seeing our soccer family again
- We live and breathe hockey. We miss our hockey family
- My son and our family misses our baseball family.
- Seeing them smiling and playing the sports they love.
- Some structure and feeling part of something bigger then our family
- Our family's schedule going back to "normal". We also look forward to our children being physically active through learning and engaging in the sports they love. We will also be excited to see them back with their hockey, swim and soccer "families".
- Friendships and allowing the kids to enjoy the sports the way it is to be played without crazy rules
- Having my daughter back in the water enjoying her passion for swimming.
- Getting back to some socializing and activities. Hard being cooped up. As a front line health care worker, I deal with stress and anxieties in my office and in hospital. Welcome having some safe activities for our teens to keep healthy, both mentally and physically.
- Watching our son play and learn the sport he loves. Watching him meet up with his teammates and coach that he misses.
- My son is an athlete and loves sports. It gets him a ton of physical activity and a regimented schedule. Most if his close friends have come from sports
- A chance for the kids to show all their hard work and have some sense of return to normal. Our daughter lost 70% of her club volleyball season, her school softball season and so far half of her travel ball tourneys are canceled or rescheduled and the team is unable to reschedule. They just want to play because it is a huge part of their life.
- Routine, physical activity, and time with friends. Our whole family really enjoys going to the competitions as it has really brought us do much closer together.
- Please stop calling it the new normal. Just go back to life. Regular, unrestricted, daily life. Get on with it already. It’s time to play!!
- Being with our ‘hockey family’
- Seeing friends and doing the sports we love!
- Everything! Sports does so much for one by giving them purpose, physical activity, mental activity, socialization, and teaching skills that can be very useful in life.
- Seeing my kids enjoying time spent with other kids
- Both of my kids are in competitive sports - both miss their teammates a lot, the fun of competition and the extreme physical side of being in a sport. They just want to be back to their normal.
- The camaraderie and exercise
- Baseball all has been a huge part of our lives. I know my boys really miss the team mates and the competition. As parents, we miss watching the kids play and the socializing with our friends.
- The fresh air and physical activity. Being normal again.
- Getting the kids and parents back together socially. Spending time with our football family.
- Getting the kids with friends again, active and off video games
- Reconnecting my sons with their friends and teammates and coaches. Community building that has not taken place since the life stoppage.
- We really miss performing on stage and seeing the team dance and enjoying themselves.
- Watching my kid be a leader in the field
- Getting back to the tournaments
- The return of sports and interacting with teammates and their families. The whole team from players to parents to friends are all one family. Participating without social Distancing, masks, roster limitations or anything else that alters the sport the kids love.
- My daughter having the emotional well-being that comes with doing her sport. It's a great mental break from all her academics.
- This is literally almost the entirety of both mine and my daughter's social life. It's like an extended family. We've known some of my daughter's teammates and their parents since they were 3 or 4 years or age. It's actually quite depressing how hard this pandemic has hit us.
- the ability to be active, socialize with friends and have fun - important for our son's mental health. We didn't realize until COVID how much of an outlet it is for him for mental wellness.
- Feeling of togetherness. Our teammates are just an extension of our family.
- Our daughter being healthy and active.
- I think that it is positive for the kids mental and physical health and I think that it will not only give the kids something to be excited about again but it will also give them hope that some kind of normal will again be possible.
- Our dance studio has been AMAZING offering ZOOM classes immediately upon closing. The dancers’ training schedule has been for the most part maintained. What We look forward to most is having the space to dance and dance TOGETHER. Nothing can replace the shared energy these dancers get from being in the same Room!
- We miss our ball family so much. You go from seeing people 5 times a week to just texting and zoom. It's not the same
- Playing games, watching the team work on improving their skills and the camradery with teammates, coaches, siblings and parents
- The absolutely joy of sports and competition
- Their teammates are also their best friends. A safe, planned return to what they love and the sports which enrich their lives in countless ways is something we look so forward to!
- The excitement & enjoyment it brings our family.
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