Not just a game: Nearly 80 per cent of parents report decrease in children’s wellbeing due to lack of youth sport during lockdown

Youth sport primary

An international study of youth sport during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of sport for social, mental and physical wellbeing.

In research carried out by Birmingham City University (UK), Michigan State University (USA), Illinois State University (USA), and Queen’s University (Canada), early findings have shown nearly 80 per cent of parents surveyed (78 per cent) reported a decrease in their children’s social health and wellbeing.

The effect of the youth sport lockdown was not only felt by children, however, as 75 per cent of youth sport coaches reported feeling that the removal of organised youth sport had decreased their social wellbeing.

Over 500 parents, sports coaches and youth sport administrators from 18 countries including Canada, South Africa, the USA, Australia and the UK have taken part in the survey to date.

The importance of youth sport to people’s social wellbeing was also highlighted by parents, who explained that it is a vital part of their own social wellbeing too, describing youth sport as ‘our main social outlet’ and ‘where we spend our time outside being physically active with our community’.

The online survey remains open for responses.

Dr Adam Kelly, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for Sports Coaching and Physical Education at Birmingham City University, said: “It is unknown when or how youth sport activities will resume.

“As such, we can choose to adapt sports to meet the needs of those who want to participate. More specifically, we can change what and how we engage in youth sport activities, how we interact with peers, coaches, parents, and communities, as well as the environments where we engage in sport.

We have also put together a commentary which offers considerations for researchers and practitioners working in youth sport. This article discusses the potential challenges and consequences during the time of COVID-19 on immediate, short-, and long-term developmental outcomes.”