Youth and Local Sports Still Need Our Help

By Sherri Middleton

As sports have slowly been able to return to play in many communities across the country, the pause in play which started in March when the pandemic swept our country and the world has continued to leave its mark.

            Many organizations, national governing bodies (NGBs) and even private individuals and municipalities called on Congress to assist organizations to provide a safety net for youth and local sports and elite-level athletes.

            As we all know, the local level of sports for fitness, recreation and organized play relies on volunteers, small businesses and park and recreation departments to provide a way for people to continue playing sports at a time when it is so necessary to our physical, emotional and mental health.

            There is no doubt that people suffered because of the lack of “normalcy” this year. Even people who don’t consider themselves as athletes or even interested in participating in organized play or fitness activities mentioned the lack of the ability to watch televised sports has caused some level of unhappiness.

            While most sports organizations did not receive financial support or assistance directly from the Cares Act passed by Congress, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans were made available. How many small organizations received those funds is still in question; It seems that major corporations took their share of the funding quickly, leaving small groups without the funding they needed.

            I still believe that our state, local and even Federal government must continue to be reminded that sports and fitness are integral to our well-being. Sports are also integral to our economy. We do represent an estimated $19 billion industry after all.

            Please remember to call or write to your representatives to ask them to support the organizations that are working to get youth and local sports back in our ballparks, gyms and cities.

            This summer, Rep. Max Rose (NY-11) introduced HR 7562 again and the RESTART ACT may offer additional assistance.

            To date, the House Ways and Means Committee on Small Business have not acted, although 37 representatives have co-sponsored the bill since its introduction on July 9.

            In the meantime, it is great to see so many organizations and destinations finding ways to play sports and host tournaments this year.

            By developing safety protocols, assessing risk levels and providing oversight and leadership, our sports partners are finding way to return to play safely despite the pandemic.

            What are your thoughts?

            What are you and your organization doing to get back in the action?