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Almost Half of US Parents Plan to Enroll Their Kids in Fall Sports

Business • September 1, 2020

By Nick Rigitano
NSGA Director of Insights and Analysis

DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS (September 1, 2020) – According to a survey conducted by Morning Consult, 46 percent of  parents whose children usually participate in fall sports plan to enroll their kids in fall programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Conversely, 22 percent of parents said they would not let their kid(s) participate in fall sports, while 32 percent were unsure or had not decided yet.

When asked if the benefits of youth sports participation outweigh the risks associated with the spread of COVID-19, 40 percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with that statement. There were, however, slightly more people who disagreed or strongly disagreed with this statement at 48 percent. Only 11 percent said they did not know or had no opinion.

Any amount of sports participation this fall will be a welcome sight to sporting goods retailers, team dealers and manufacturers who saw spring sports virtually cancelled across the country earlier this year. But not having a full customer base to sell products to might lead to increased competition among brands and retailers/team dealers.

Here is a look at youth (ages 7-17) vs. adult (ages 18+) participation in 2019 for a variety of sports often played in the fall in many parts of the country.

According to NSGA’s Sports Participation in the US report, cheerleading has the highest percentage (73%) of youth participation among selected fall sports and could be affected most if a portion of parents decide not to enroll their kids in youth sports. Tackle football and soccer would be next in line as youths account for 55 and 51 percent of participation, respectively.

Flag football (48%), touch football (43%) and volleyball (39%) could be significantly affected as well with youth age groups accounting for more than a third of total participation. Tennis (21%) and golf (9%) would be the sports least affected by parents’ potential decision to keep their kids out of sports this fall.

So how can sports safely be played this fall? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has laid out specific guidelines for conducting sports practices and competitions in a way that minimizes the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Guidelines include:

  • Stay home if sick.
  • Players should bring their own equipment, like gloves and bats, if possible.
  • Reduce physical closeness and keep 6 feet of space between players when possible.
  • Wear a mask if possible.
  • Players should clean their hands before and after practices, games, and sharing equipment.
  • Tell a coach or staff member if you don’t feel well.

For more information on precautions to take in order to safely conduct sports practices and competitions, as well as a checklist for coaches to follow, please visit the CDC website at