Return of youth sports welcomed and feared

Courtesy of Macalester Donnie Brooks

Black parents fear their children will get sick if they return to sports more than do White and Latino parents, says a new Aspen Institute Power Play youth sports study.

The study by North Carolina State, Utah State and George Mason Universities in May questioned 1,050 youth sports parents and found that 59 percent of Blacks fear their children getting sick if they return to sports compared to 50 percent of all other parents asked. Black parents (26 percent) also felt “slightly uncomfortable” or “extremely uncomfortable” with their child returning to sports compared to White parents (13 percent), the study shows.

These fears by parents are similar to those expressed on sending their children back to school post-COVID, stated North Carolina State Sport Management Professor Michael Kanters.

MSR News Online Dr. Michael Kanters

“It kind of makes sense,” he explained. “You look at how COVID-19 has impacted different races and ethnicities across the country and the data have been really clear on this—African Americans are much harder hit by the virus than other parts of the population. It’s understandable that African American parents have greater concern putting their child in situations that expose them to the virus than other segments of the population.

“I think it makes sense that parents are concerned getting their children back to playing sports. I think a lot of parents are anxious to get them back in. You want them to start playing, but you are nervous about going back,” Kanters said.
Many believe that sports at all levels will help America return to normal, but Kanters quickly noted, “Nobody knows what is going on with all the things that are impacted by the coronavirus. Sports play such a critical part in not only the lives of our children but also parents. Depending on the age, [the parents’] very identity is tied up in sports” that their children are playing.
The youth sports study can be read at www.aspenprojectplay.org.

MIAC grows
The MIAC will add two schools for the 2021-22 season: Macalester and St. Scholastica.

League officials announced last week a new football alignment, a 10-team, two division setup with playoffs and a championship game: St. Scholastica, Carlton College, Gustavus Adolphus, St. John’s and St. Olaf in the Northwoods Division; and Macalester, Augsburg, Bethel, Concordia Moorhead and Hamline in the Skyline Division.

Commissioner Dan McKane
Courtesy of MIAC Commissioner Dan McKane

Commissioner Dan McKane told the MSR that St. Scholastica, which is in Duluth, “is a really good fit for us. I’m very happy to have Macleaster back,” he said of the St. Paul school that left the conference as an independent football program in 2002.
Macalester AD Donnie Brooks noted on returning to the MIAC—the Midwest Conference, which did not renew the Scots’ football affiliate membership beyond the 2020 season—“We left the MIAC in a position of weakness… We talked about ending the program at one point. I’m really happy that we return to the MIAC in a position of strength with healthy rosters. Hopefully, this will increase the competitiveness of the conference.”

More importantly, Brooks believes being back in the MIAC will help in recruiting, especially local Black kids. “We now can use this as an opportunity for us to recruit the great kids from our backyard, kids who are of and from our community, which includes kids who look like you and me.”

About Charles Hallman

Charles Hallman is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at challman@spokesman-recorder.com

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