Players, parents and event organizers asked to participate in youth sports study on 'next normal'


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — It seems like each day, we talk about the effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on professional sports, from basketball and baseball to golf and IndyCar; however, it's also having a big effect on youth sports all across the country.

If your kids compete in organized sports, you know the virus has thrown a wrench in a lot of games and tournaments. That's why William Knox, the director of Grand Park in Westfield, has partnered with the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute to launch a nationwide study today.

The more than 400-acre sports complex typically sees more than 2.5 million visitors in a normal year, but that number will obviously be lower this year as coronavirus concerns have suspended nearly all organized sports practices and games.

Westfield Mayor Andy Cook and Dr. David Pierce, the director of the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute, said the study is looking into the "next normal," as well as the impact and impressions COVID-19 has had on youth sports.

The study will help measure how satisfied parents, players and event organizers are with safety measures and what would make them comfortable going forward in relaunching youth sporting events, not only at Grand Park, but across the country.

"I think this survey will help us understand some of those higher level items that people will start to expect or items that they just won't be able to tolerate," Knox said. "Looking at event staff and maybe even to some extent, spectators, do we require them to wear a mask? Or do you not? Those are some of the questions we're going to ask [in] the survey."

They'll use the data collected to help organizers and venues host events in this "new normal."

Knox said their target response to the study is between 600 to 700 people, but he hopes it exceeds that. They're hoping to have initial results by June 1.

"I don't think this would get done if it weren't for IUPUI and the Sports Innovation Institute," Knox said. "They're a research institution, and we will rely heavily on them to take the data in and give us a really good analysis of what it means — not only for us here at Grand Park but facilities throughout the country."

Click here to participate in the study.