Grand Park, IUPUI launching coronavirus youth sports study

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WESTFIELD, Ind- It’s called America’s pastime for a reason. For thousands of young athletes, a summer without baseball wouldn’t sound like summer at all. But these days, we’re learning there’s a lot we may have to live without.

“I’ve got two boys here in the house, and they have not been out much at all in the last few weeks, and they’re just itching to get back out,” said William Knox, Director of Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield.

For parents like Knox, youth sports are essential for their kids. And as director of a large youth sports complex, he wants to make that happen safely.

It’s a big deal,” Knox said. “It’s not just for their physical health, it’s for their mental health as well.”

“That summer youth sports team is that beacon of hope you’re looking to,” said Dr. David Pierce with the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute.

Dr. Pierce is leading the charge on a new study aimed at opening places like Grand Park safely in a pandemic.

“It’s really testing the parents’ temperature on their willingness to get back with these adaptations,” Dr. Pierce said.

Starting May 17, surveys will be sent to parents, referees, and athletes to learn how they see games being played.

“Really the goal is to find the things that people perceive is a ‘must be’ that they’re really comfortable with,” Dr. Pierce said. “But the way the survey is designed, using the method that we’re using, it would also pull out the things people are really resistant to.”

Whether it’s empty bleachers, no concessions, or no handshake lines, there are a lot of potential restrictions to consider. Everyone would need to play ball in order to keep America’s past time alive.

“We’re really looking at what is our new normal in the sports tourism industry, and this research will go a long way in helping them understand some of the things that they need to do as well,” Knox said.

The study will cover a wide range of sports and is meant to help facilities across the country. The first wave of results is expected in June.

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