October 23rd, 2020

COVID-19 restrictions impact sports activity, participation


By Woodard, Dale on August 19, 2020.

Lethbridge Sport Council

The Lethbridge Sport Council invited families with children to share their COVID-19 experiences. Survey results provided information on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their participation in sport, physical activity, and recreation during the shutdown and through the relaunch.

Ninety-nine surveys were completed in its entirety, representing 280 children and their families. Families of middle and high school students made up 59 per cent of the respondents. Forty-one per cent have children in preschool and elementary school. >

Seventy-four per cent of survey respondents’ children were physically active at least one hour daily. During the COVID shutdown this dropped to 17 per cent. During the Stage 2 relaunch, less than half have returned to their same level of activity. Children not active at all jumped 12 per cent when the COVID shutdown occurred.

Parents completed five questions with their children. Not surprisingly, 94 per cent of children miss their friends and social interaction and 93 per cent stated that their daily schedules have been altered.

Seventy-five per cent of children experienced changes to their eating habits and their motivation. Other impacts included missing developing their skills (82 per cent), changes in mood (80 per cent), missing training and competition (71 per cent) and changes in sleeping patterns and habits (63 per cent).

The shutdown of sport was not all negative. Seventy-one per cent enjoyed eating family meals together, 69 per cent enjoyed time for unstructured play and 62 per cent enjoyed being active as a family.

Over 85 per cent of children miss having fun and being with friends and 57 per cent of children said they are afraid of getting sick when they can return to their sport, physical activity, and active recreation.

One family wrote that they miss “maintaining fitness and improving mental health, but thankfully have been able to participate online and more recently in outdoor organized classes.” Others commented they “miss staying fit by doing something that they enjoyed” and they “miss being part of a team/community and having structured opportunities for physical activity.”

To counter, children were asked what they disliked about sport, physical activity and active recreation. Twenty-eight per cent stated they dislike having to choose one sport and 17 per cent stated there is no time to just play. Parents added comments about the high cost and the time commitment. However, 82 per cent of parents said fitting sports into their schedule is not a barrier to resume sport participation.

Financially, 42 per cent of respondents stated that their households have been negatively affected by the pandemic. Pre-COVID, 32 per cent of families invested over $300 monthly in sport, physical activity and recreation. Post-COVID we see an anticipated drop to 23 per cent of families investing over $300 monthly. >

Most parents (78 per cent) are comfortable with their children resuming individual pickup sports such as shooting and running, and neighbourhood pickup games such as basketball and soccer (61 per cent). The comfort level decreases with community sport (57 per cent), school intramural sports (53 per cent), school sports (51 per cent) and travel/elite or club league sports (36 per cent).

Forty-one per cent of parents are afraid of their children becoming sick if they start playing sports again and 44 per cent are afraid they or other family members will get sick if their children return to sport.

Seventy-eight per cent of families have engaged in activities with family and friends during the shutdown, with 63 per cent continuing to train and be physically active at home on their own. One respondent said that they “only played in the backyard and house. Now we go to the playground, spray park, for walks and play with close neighbourhood friends. Kids now go to full time daycare so I can work and there is always physical play there.”

One family has taken up golfing at one of the five courses in Lethbridge. Other families are walking and biking more on the 77 kilometres of paved pathways and 57 kilometres of natural trails within the City of Lethbridge.

We know that sport, physical activity and active recreation (SPAR) help make individuals, families and communities stronger and healthier. A strong SPAR sector will significantly aid the economic, health and social impact of Lethbridge and area residents as our community recovers from and moves beyond COVID-19.

For a more detailed report of the survey visit https://staging.lethbridgesportcouncil.ca/news/category/covid-19.

COVID-19 pandemic resources for sport are updated regularly and can be found on the Lethbridge Sport Council website https://lethbridgesportcouncil.ca/.

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