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How Will School Sports Look During COVID-19? We Teamed Up With DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation to Find Out!

We invited 400 coaches and athletic directors to share their thoughts on school athletics during COVID-19.


The 2020–2021 school year will look like none other, and every student will have a unique experience due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Millions of students will or are already conducting distance learning, and how the rest of the year unfolds is still up in the air. But student athletes and coaches alike are determined to keep school sports — and the valuable lessons they impart — alive, no matter where students are learning from.

To get better insight into what teachers are anticipating and the resources they’ll need, we partnered with DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation to survey coaches within the DonorsChoose community. We asked 400 high school, middle school, and elementary school teachers who serve as coaches and athletic directors to share their thoughts with us.

Here’s what we learned.

Coaches anticipate a decrease in student athlete engagement

A pie chart. Unsure: 52%, Yes: 45%, No: 3%
Question: Will you be able to coach, practice with, or otherwise engage with your sports team in the upcoming school year?

Half of respondents are unsure if they will be able to coach or train their teams at all, and 73% are concerned about students’ interest in joining sports teams.

For coaches and students planning to continue with sports this year, uncertainty about the season is weighing heavy on their minds. Coaches, many of whom expect to be training at least partially remotely, are additionally concerned about whether or not remote training will engage student athletes.

A bar chart. Offline training is not engaging: 67% Not feeling a connection to the team: 57% Lack of clarity about competition: 57% Competing priorities: 31%
Question: What do you think will have an impact on your students' interest levels?

“Sports matter! Please don’t allow this crisis to take away sports!” —Middle School Athletic Coach

Individualized training tools are a top need, especially when coaching remotely

Most teachers (70%) are anticipating a decrease in sports funding, which compounds safety concerns about shared equipment and student access to training tools. Teachers shared their top concerns for coaching remotely:

A bar chart. Lack of equipment for students to use at home: 78% Remote training makes it difficult to support students: 63% Lack of technology to connect remotely: 45% Fundraising for the sport to continue remotely: 38%
Question: Please choose the top three challenges you will face coaching sports remotely for the upcoming school year.

For teachers who anticipate training in person, they’re most concerned about the ability to social distance, the safety of shared training equipment, and a lack of sanitation supplies.

“My school is a low income/Title- 1 school. We reuse our resources year after year and make sure students who make our dance team don't pay a dime. They have been reusing the same uniforms, duffle bags, pom poms, costumes, etc for several years (decades?!). There are no protocols for sanitation and we could really use new resources.” —High School Athletic Coach

When thinking about resources they would likely request through DonorsChoose, both groups listed individualized training equipment and sanitization items as their top needs.

Coaches are hungry for resources and professional development

A majority of respondents (67%) who anticipate remote engagement are interested in professional development about how to train and support sports teams.

Respondents would like to see professional development content about...

  • Player safety
  • Individualized athlete training/socially distanced training
  • How to create and record remote training videos
  • Staying connected to team while social distancing, how to be a team while apart

No matter what this school year brings for teachers, coaches, and student athletes, our community is dedicated to helping students thrive. Support a sports project today.

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