INDIANAPOLIS — Summer youth sports are just a few months away and thousands of Hoosier parents say they are ready for facilities to scale back restrictions.
According to the latest study done by researchers at IUPUI, the removal of face coverings for participants had the most support (75%), followed by bench and dugout modifications (73%), and limiting spectators (71%).
“We are 100% just reporting where parents are on their perception,” said David Pierce, Director of IUPUI’s Sports Innovation Institute. “We really want to help venue operators and tournament organizers be prepared.”
Pierce said 57% of participants were also in favor of removing face covering requirements for spectators and 55% would like the same done for the social distancing of spectators. According to the data, the exception was that only 36% of respondents agreed that facilities should scale back on sanitization to pre-COVID levels.
“I think that there is going to become increasingly this divide between indoor or outdoor [sports],” said Dr. Brian Dixon with Regenstrief Institute. “When you’re outdoors, risk is much lower, those are opportunities for sports organizations to perhaps take another look at the regulations.”
Dr. Dixon said youth sports groups can consider scaling back restrictions during games held outdoors.
“As long as people are willing to kind of distance themselves from one another, masks may not necessarily be appropriate or required in those situations,” said Dr. Dixon. “If you’re indoors, though, we’re still going to recommend you wear masks because that’s where we see the virus spread most often.”
Dr. Dixon said restrictions for both indoor and outdoor sporting events vary across the state, meanwhile some counties leave it entirely up to the sporting facility to decide.
Pierce said regardless of what restrictions facilities choose to loosen, a majority of parents want an advanced notice on what those changes will be.
“People want to understand before they show up and then certainly very clearly demarcated and identified when they arrive on site,” said Pierce. “What COVID looks like in Indiana might look different than in Iowa, or where people are traveling to, so people just want to be prepared for what they’re about to engage with.”
Dr. Dixon recommends facilities keep a log of both participants and spectators to enhance contact tracing efforts – whether that list comes from the teams themselves or a sign-in sheet at the facility.
“That gives people peace of mind that should there have been a positive case at that venue, I would find out about that later so I can go get my son or daughter tested,” said Dr. Dixon.