As youth sports programs are gearing up to return to competition, a study from Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield and the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute is gauging concerns from the public. The study involved a nationwide survey of more than 10,000 parents, coaches, players and administrators who gave their thoughts on what changes need to be made at facilities for them to feel safe. Grand Park Director William Knox says questions involved topics such as event staff wearing masks, availability of dugouts and health screenings before entering the complex.

Knox and IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute Director Dr. David Pierce discussed early results from the survey with Business of Health Reporter Kylie Veleta.

“Some of the biggies that are just fundamentally important and really classified as things that, you know, the more of this that people see, the more safe they feel would be visible and increased sanitization practices by the venues and that includes lobbies, common areas, high-touch areas,” said Pierce. “On the event operator side of things and the league side, the sanitization practices of playing areas and equipment.”

Pierce says seeing others engage in social distancing practices and treating event staff who are trying to enforce such policies with respect also scored high on the survey.

More than 90% of the respondents were parents. The early results show the respondents were strongly against having no spectators at games.

Knox says there will be significant costs associated with implementing additional policies and procedures.

“For some facilities, it may not be as much. We’re a 400-acres campus with a multitude of fields, so therefore it just amplifies that from our standpoint. We’ve already put ourselves in a position where we’ve cut a lot of our projections, but…this is going to be paramount for us because this is going to instill confidence in our consumers that we’ve provided a safe environment for them to come back and play.”

Pierce says the goal is to work with the public relations departments at both Indiana University and Grand Park to inform communities nationwide of the results of the study.

Most youth sports practices in Indiana are now allowed as the state moved into State 3 of Governor Eric Holcomb’s Back on Track plan. The next stage will allow most youth sports to resume competitive games.

The full results of the Grand Park/IUPUI study are expected to be released later this week.