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Confidence Up Among Youth Sports Orgs

October 1, 2020

Marianne

We are being very cautious as our youth return to playing sports, but we are also feeling more optimistic about that. Back in April, we had little to cheer about. According to a LeagueSide study:

  • 46% of YSOs worried they might go out of business, permanently, because of the pandemic
  • 54% of youth sports parents said they, too, feared their child’s organization would close down

 

Now, the number of YSOs concerned about financial viability is down to 29%. That’s a win, of sorts. But naturally we want to see all organizations fully operational and all kids able to play once again. Sports are good for kids, and we all know how much they’re missing when they can’t play.

 

More than fun and games

The youth sports industry is big business across the country, contributing mightily to the national economy. The New York Times reports that, prior to the pandemic, about 45 million kids played on club teams or in youth leagues. Then came “an enormous reckoning, one that has evaporated tens of millions of dollars and is getting worse daily as events and camps are canceled into the summer.”

And no wonder. Training camps, practices, games and tournaments were being canceled right and left as states issued waves of stay-at-home orders. Sports play screeched to a halt. The Times predicted the damage would likely to be both brutal and long-lasting.

As the industry started to contemplate what returning to play might look like, there were additional concerns to be addressed:

  • Potential lawsuits that might result if players, coaches or families were to contract the virus
  • Additional expenses required to meet mandated COVID prevention protocols
  • The possibility that parents would demand refunds if play did not fully resume, putting even more financial pressure on organizations

 

Here’s why we’re so optimistic

Everybody wants to do the right thing. “Staff, coaches and mentors have all been feeling isolated, too,” points out Gary Goldberg, SquadLocker Co-Founder and CEO. “Their goal is to help kids.”

So youth sports organizations have turned to creativity and innovation to develop new approaches that will enable kids to return to play safely and keep YSOs financially viable. Among them:

  • Offering monthly subscriptions for parents, rather than the traditional all-at-once payment of participation fees.
  • About half of parents surveyed by LeagueSide in April said they would be willing to pre-pay their child’s participation fees to increase near-term support for their YSO. And 58% said they would be willing to pay more, if needed. But many parents don’t have the resources to do that, especially with so many families still suffering significantly from COVID-related economic impacts.

 

  • Virtual skill-building and training, rather than in-person practice sessions. Many coaches around the country picked up on this idea early on, using digital technology to both teach and promote team spirit and cohesiveness despite distancing.
  • By focusing on virtual coaching rather than competitions that require close contact, we can help kids build confidence in themselves and their skills, suggests Mark Botterill, VP of Strategy for Augusta Sportswear. There’s a better chance they will stick with their sport.

 

In fact, Botterill notes, SportsEngine and MaxOne recently announced a new partnership to offer on-demand virtual training programs to teams, leagues and organizations nationwide. Programs are free through November.

Here at SquadLocker, we’ve taken a similar approach, using innovative, state-of-the-art digital technology to help YSOs and schools create virtual apparel stores that are easy to use and completely contactless. Don’t have your store set up yet? That’s the easiest fix of all! Just give us a call, drop us an email or chat with a SquadLocker store expert live to get started.

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