What Happens to Youth Sports During COVID-19?

Under normal circumstances, kids would be looking forward to the end of the school year and the sports camps they were planning to attend during their summer vacation. However, 2020 has been anything but typical. Schools have been closed for weeks, and may not even reopen in the fall. Students who participate in sports have been left wondering what this means for their athletic career.

How is the coronavirus affecting youth sports, and how can athletes young and old make the most of this new hurdle?

Financial Impacts

While students and young athletes are usually more concerned with the game than the cost of playing it, youth sports is a massive industry. If you want a number to attach to it, consider this one — $25 billion. That's how much money is spent around the globe to support youth sports. If things don't start picking up, the impact may be much further-reaching than previously thought.

This also applies to school-based sports. These activities were the perfect place for children whose parents couldn't afford to pay-to-play. If school budgets are cut as campuses remain closed, sports funding will likely be one of the first targets, which will leave young athletes without a place to participate in the games they love.

Balancing Safety and Sports

The biggest challenge in reopening youth sporting events is going to be ensuring everyone is safe, especially during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. St. Louis is planning on bringing back youth baseball this weekend, bringing together 47 teams with strict rules to ensure social distancing is maintained.

Even the catchers and umpires have to stand further back to keep everyone 6 feet apart on the diamond, and the rules have been changed slightly to keep infield players 6 feet apart from base runners. This is one of the first sporting events in the country since everything started shutting down in March, and it will serve as a litmus test to see if it is truly possible to bring back youth sports this summer while keeping everyone safe.

Practicing at Home

One of the biggest things impacting young athletes right now is the lack of practices that would normally allow them to hone their skills. The only option for young athletes is to stay on top of their game at home. There are plenty of things they can do — from running football drills to weight training — but it is no replacement for team practices. It could also make things more difficult for young athletes to work together on the field when they finally get a chance to resume training.

Hopefully, things will return to normal within the next few months. Summer day camps may be a great option for young athletes to help them improve their skills in preparation for the upcoming year, once they're allowed to reopen and can do so safely. The biggest thing to remember is that no matter what schools and sports programs decide to do, the most important thing is keeping our kids safe and healthy.

Be Patient — This Too Shall Pass

We get it — there are a lot of incredibly disappointed young athletes out there, missing their teams and their practices and their games. The important thing to remember is that this, too, shall pass. Eventually, things will go back to normal, and we'll all be able to sit on the sidelines and cheer for our kids and their team, but for the moment, staying home and running around the backyard is the best way for kids to maintain their skills and stay healthy.

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