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A recent return to play survey indicates most associated with youth sports understand the current stay-at-home guidelines, but are rather anxious to get back to recreational athletics with many looking forward to travel sports. Photo Contributed

National Survey Indicates Youth Sports Are Wanted As Return To Play

MADISON- With most interest on college, professional and high school sports being placed on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic, many in the local community have almost entirely forgot about youth sports and how those, too, have been sidelined by the coronavirus stay-at-home concept.

In response to requests received from sports tourism focused on destinations, the Huddle Up Group, a Phoenix-based sports consultancy business that provides resources for sports tourism organizations, conducted a survey of nearly 2,700 respondents from across 42 states. The results of the “Return To Play” survey indicate youth and participant sports will bounce back with the avid support of families.

The family oriented youth sports in Madison includes your standard sports featured at locations such as Palmer Park and Dublin Memorial Park. Current strict enforcement of social distancing guidelines is paramount and that directive led to the survey to indicate that by summer’s end, a large majority of parents and athletes will feel safe to travel for competition.

Of the 2,694 unique responses, some 76-percent identified as parents of athletes, 12-percent as coaches, 5-percent as working in athletic organizations and 4-percent as athletes. The remaining 3-percent were split between a family member of an athlete and referees.

According to Huddle Up Group CEO Jon Schmieder, “The major takeaway from the survey was nearly half of all respondents said today’s market challenges will not impact their sports travel budgets. As we have always said, parents will do everything in their power to make sure their kids have the opportunity to compete. The data here certainly supports that notion.”

Each person surveyed were asked five questions:

  1. How safe do you feel allowing yourself/your athlete to participate in sports at the following times?

Though only 48.5-percent feel safe at the current time, there will be a gradual rise as the summer unfolds to nearly 80-percent feeling safe or somewhat safe by Labor Day.

  1. What are the most important factors in deciding about participation in travel sports?

Having socially distancing guidelines enforced led the list, closely followed by having personal protective equipment used. On-site temperature testing was third on the list and a distant fourth was having the event in a warmer climate.

  1. When you feel it is safe to travel, what is the greatest distance with which you’re comfortable?

The survey showed an overwhelming 82-percent were comfortable only with a three-hour drive or less. While numbers gradually rise in a comfort zone for driving trips more than three hours away—nearly a third of those respondents said they would be comfortable flying to locations in September.

  1. How many people do you anticipate traveling with your athlete?

The average is 2.5 people accompanying an athlete, demonstrating the value of sports tourism to a community.

  1. How much has your sports travel budget been impacted by the current market conditions?

More than 48-percent indicated their budget will not be affected, but 14-percent said their travel budget will be decreased by 75-percent or more. On average, a two-day youth tournament involving 300 athletes and attracting 1,000 visitors, like the tournaments held at Palmer Park, would provide more than $380,000 in direct spending in a community like Madison.

The purpose of the survey was to determine the current opinion of parents as to when and under what circumstances, they would allow their children to participate in travel sports again in the future.

Travel teams have become a huge business and a major part of many youth athletes, especially those of upper caliber of talent, as elite competition normally leads to great success beyond the recreational type of athletics. A great number of travel team athletes have gone on to collegiate scholarships.

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