Huddle Up Group's survey, “Return to Play,” put five questions—all related to COVID-19—toward parents with children who play competitive sports. Huddle Up received nearly 2,700 responses, with almost 78% saying they’d allow kids to play in travel sports in September and beyond.
The survey, “Return to Play,” put five questions—all related to COVID-19—toward parents with children who play competitive sports. Huddle Up received nearly 2,700 responses, with almost 78% saying they’d allow kids to play in travel sports in September and beyond.
“Labor Day looks to be the most likely turning point,” says Jon Schmieder, Founder and CEO of Huddle Up Group, a sports tourism consultancy to more than 60 destinations.
One key finding from the study is that two months into the pandemic, and with most states opening up in some capacity, the fear of traveling is eroding. Even now, 82% of parents say they would allow children to play within a tournament within three hours of their home. The respondents demonstrated some reluctance to flying, but there was a strong surge—from 4.8% today to 22.2%—to OK air travel by September.
Regaining the public’s trust will be paramount for all in-person events going forward, whether it is sporting events or meetings/conferences. NASCAR resumed its season this past weekend, May 15-17, without fans, and other major league sports groups are inching toward a return to play with limited or no attendance.
Many parents would not allow children to fly solo to tournaments regardless of a pandemic. That is forcing facilities and organizations focused on youth sports to find solutions for safe play and safe stay—and convince the adults that the benefits of the games outweigh any risks.
“It is paramount that a parent feels comfortable with the travel decisions that are being made on behalf of a child’s team or sport,” says Dani Timm, CSEE, Virginia Beach Sports Marketing’s national sports sales manager.
The good news is once parents make the initial sign off, the power of youth sports is evident. An average of 2.5 family members would make the trip to any tournament, the study results show. Those families would presumably still stay in hotels and eat (or get takeout) at local restaurants, generating much-needed revenue for communities devasted by the travel standstill.
Nearly half of the respondents added that any economic downturn won’t affect the decision to attend—harkening back to sports tourism’s strength during the Great Recession.
“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,” says Schmieder.