A new study has found access to sport has improved since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a lack of social ties post-pandemic is creating a significant barrier for some youth in Ontario.
Now, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) is working to create a level-playing field for all children.
The study from MLSE Foundation’s Change the Game research found that more than half of participants reported having no one to play with as a strong disengagement factor in sport.
Marika Warner, the director of research and evaluation for community engagement and social impact at MLSE said that has been the number one barrier.
“Although restrictions have been removed, we’re just not seeing our friends and family as often. We have smaller circles and that has some pretty serious implications for how much sport and physical activity that youth are engaging in right now,” said Warner.
Dr. Simon Darnell, Director of the Centre for Sport Policy Studies at University of Toronto, is one of the leaders of the study.
Dr. Darnell said, with this research, they were trying to get a better understanding of what sport means to young people.
“So that we can reform sport in a way that makes it more accessible and inclusive,” explained Dr. Darnell.
The study also found more than 80 per cent of youth reported not having people they can talk to about experiences with racism or discrimination in sport.
Dr. Darnell said not every young person has the same access to sport and they want to change that.
MLSE Foundation said the research project is a key component of the Change the Game campaign’s commitment to identifying the barriers youth face and developing solutions to inspire change.