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Study: 9 in 10 Parents Cite Mental Health as Top Reason Kids Play Sports

August 7, 2021 / CoachingPlayer Safety
TeamSnap, which provides industry-leading sports management and communication software for amateur sports, released the results today of its research study produced in collaboration with The Aspen Institute‘s Sports & Society ProgramFamilies in Sport Lab at Utah State Universityand Louisiana Tech University‘s Minds in Motion Lab, exploring the effects of the pandemic on young people and youth sports. The study demonstrated significant findings of the connection between youth sports and mental health, with 9 in 10 parents (89%) citing mental health as a top reason their children participate in youth sports, and the majority of parents (52%) reporting that their children’s mental health and physical fitness decreased during the pandemic.

This proprietary research will help shape the growing conversation about the important role of sports in youth development and the wide-ranging negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study marks the latest milestone in TeamSnap’s leadership around this issue, following the announcement of a $1M donation to improve access to youth sports, an influx of top talent to the company, and a strategic investment by Waud Capital.

Top findings from the study include:

  • Mental health and physical fitness declined among young people: More than half of parent respondents reported that their children’s mental health (52%) and physical fitness (53%) decreased during the pandemic, and nearly half of parents said their children’s emotional control (48%) and social wellbeing (45%) decreased as well.
  • Having fun, mental health, and physical fitness are parents’ top three goals for youth sports: Parents say the most important outcome of playing sports is having fun (95% of respondents), followed closely by supporting mental health (89%) and enhancing physical fitness (88%). However, parents indicated that their children’s achievement of these goals during the pandemic was significantly lower, with only about half of parents (54%) saying their children did very well with having fun, and even less (52%) saying their children did very well with supporting mental health and enhancing physical fitness.
  • Social distancing and lockdowns increased children’s screen time: The pandemic had significant effects on the activities children were involved in, as their time spent in organized sport, in free play, at school, and with friends decreased greatly (69%, 60%, 68%, and 72% of parents respectively), while their screen time increased dramatically. In fact, 8 in 10 parents (82%) said that their children’s screen time increased or greatly increased during the pandemic.
  • Community responses to COVID-19 were looked at more favorably than national responses: The more distant an entity is from a family, the less satisfied parents were with their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 3 in 4 parents (74%) were satisfied with their child’s coach’s response to the pandemic, while only 40% were satisfied with their state’s response, and even less (33%) were satisfied with their country’s response.

“Throughout the pandemic, the abrupt pause of youth athletics left kids without an environment to gather with their friends and teammates. Unfortunately, the isolation of this period had negative impacts on the mental health, physical fitness, and emotional wellbeing of this emerging generation of bright and talented young athletes,” said Peter Frintzilas, TeamSnap CEO. “By exploring these impacts with the help of two universities and The Aspen Institute, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of how the lives of those in our sports communities have changed, so we can be an even more valuable resource to help parents get kids away from the screen and back out onto the field.”

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“Through this study, we’ve learned so much about the impact of the pandemic on young athletes’ lives, as well as the connection between organized sports, social development, and overall well-being,” said Tom Farrey, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program executive director. “As the world gradually opens back up and youth sports come back in full-swing, we hope to provide our partners, including TeamSnap, with actionable tools to influence their users and surrounding communities to make youth athletics an arena of inclusivity and fun.”

TeamSnap provides end-to-end solutions for communication, scheduling, payment collection, registration, and real-time game sharing through its proprietary software platform and mobile applications. By taking the work out of play, TeamSnap has become the trusted platform for 25 million coaches, administrators, players, and parents.

Survey Methodology
The survey, hosted and distributed by Qualtrics International, Inc. in Provo, Utah, was a study designed instrument built by key stakeholders at TeamSnap, through scientific consultation with thought leaders at the Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program and Dr. Travis Dorsch, associate professor and founding director of the Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University and Dr. Jordan Blazo, assistant professor of kinesiology at Louisiana Tech University. This survey was conducted online by TeamSnap users within the United States and Canada from April 13 – May 3, 2021, among 2,097 parents, adults ages 18 and older.