Should sport have been suspended in Lockdown 2.0?
Sport is a major contributor to economic and social development. The global outbreak of coronavirus has had considerable effects on the sporting world as well as on people’s physical and mental health. From Marathons to the Olympics, most major sporting events have been impacted in some way. With stricter measures coming into force again and a recently announced second national lockdown, sport has been influenced once more. Although outdoor exercise with members of your household is allowed in public places, private locations like gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres and the participation in all amateur team sports/organised sports, such as football, rugby and golf, has been banned throughout this second lockdown.
The decision to suspend youth sport has been especially controversial. The question that is being raised is “How can youth sport be stopped while elite sport is carrying on and schools are still open?” Restrictions are put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus, however many report that it is doing more harm than good and the closure of sports teams/venues will have serious implications on children’s health. Last month the Youth Sport Trust found that a fifth of secondary schools and a sixth of primary schools had cut PE since the first lockdown, and half would be delivering less extracurricular sport in the autumn term. These figures show the already declining levels of sport in schools as a result of the pandemic, and the new restrictions will further influence this decline of physical levels of young people.
As the weather gets colder, many believe children will be less likely to exercise if they aren’t being motivated by others. The rising rates of mental health and anxiety issues being reported in young people is also key and needs to be tackled. Lack of access to exercise and physical activity can have significant mental health impacts and the cancellation of sports clubs can be seen as detrimental for many. Although the new restrictions do not limit all exercise, and home workouts are becoming increasingly popular, low-income families are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of the second national lockdown. Lower income families tend to live where it is more difficult to engage in physical exercise without organised venues / clubs being open.
Telegraph Sport has launched a “Keep Kids Active in Lockdown” campaign calling on the Government to rethink its decision to suspend children’s sport, and many individuals and sporting bodies are voicing their opinions too on their decision. With schools remaining open throughout lockdown, should the new rules be reversed so that children will still have the opportunity to partake in sports and physical activity, or are the risks too high?
If you’re interested in exploring the behaviours, needs and opinions of younger people further, drop Afra and Helen a line at firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com