"What are we going to do with all of our time? ": Parental perceptions of youth sport in its absence


In December of 2019, an infectious disease, COVID-19, began spreading globally. As a result, many institutions and governing bodies took safety precautions, ranging from social distancing restrictions to the cancellation of programs and events. Globally, youth sport experienced a complete shutdown, leaving young athletes and their families without sport participation. While necessary, this was unfortunate as youth sport provides many benefits for participants. Due to these benefits, it can be assumed that young athletes were missing their sport participation; however, it is unclear whether or not these feelings are replicated by their parents. As such, this study aimed to explore the attitudes and perceptions of youth sport parents regarding their child's sport participation in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in order to fully explore the perceptions of youth sport parents. Guided by Braun and Clarke's (2006) six step guide to thematic analysis, researchers constructed four major themes: (a) Parental sacrifice for youth sport participation, (b) Children have time to be children, (c) Parents struggle to replicate youth sport, (d) Parents miss their own experiences. Findings from this study agree with previous research in that youth sport participation may result in sacrifices for both parents and athletes. Further, findings suggest that youth sport parents have personal connections to the youth sport context, such as social opportunities and spectator experiences, which drive their motivation for involvement. Understanding parental motivations for youth sport involvement may lead future researchers to uncovering the influences of parental behaviour in the youth sport context.

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada [grant number 435-2020-0093, 2020]