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6/11/20 blog post

5 reasons your child may not want to return to sports

Does your child’s interest in sports look different after some time off? Many adults spent time over the COVID-19 shutdown re-evaluating their

priorities and how they spend their time. Children and teens also worked through these same questions. Some are probably eager to return to social interactions and competitive environments. Others probably enjoyed time for active free play and family dinners, and are reluctant to give those up.

If your child is not enthusiastic about returning to sports, there could be a variety of reasons.

Here are some common causes and how you can support your child.

  1. They are not having fun. New regulations for COVID-19 may not change the game itself, but they can change how practice, team social activities, and team travel look. If your child is not having fun with the current set-up, consider trying a new sport or social activities outside of sports (like scouts). This removes the “before” and “after” comparison.
  2. They lost the love of the game. Maybe this happened before the shutdown, or maybe it took the shutdown to realize it. Regardless, your child is not excited about returning to certain sports and now they finally have an ‘out.’ That is fine. Encourage them to stay physically active (even if it is not organized sports). Encourage them to participate in hobbies which interest them. If they are unsure what to do, try committing to something just for the summer. This is the perfect time to explore new hobbies.
  3. Social anxiety. The shut-down gave introverts a time to shine. Your introverted child may be nervous about returning to social situations again. Consider organizing 1:1 playdates with other friends, for them to shoot baskets or throw a baseball in the yard. Bonus points if this friend is also a teammate. This can smooth the transition back to team activities.
  4. They enjoyed a taste of freedom. Over the break, the kids had a lot of unstructured free time for a few months. They may be enjoying not traveling and tight timelines that most sports schedules require. Unstructured activity is good for their health and well-being, as long as they did not find ways to get themselves into trouble. It will be hard for them to let go of that and go back to structure. If this is your child, embrace it and let them explore this new era. Give them the rest of the summer of freedom before worrying about organized sports again, or try a less competitive league until school resumes.
  5. They are depressed. Children and teens suffer from depression too, but it may not look the same as adults. One of the symptoms is a lack of interest in activities. If you think your child may be depressed, please have them evaluated by their primary care provider or a mental health specialist.

Regardless of how the transition back to sports looks for your family, there are variety of ways we can support children’s physical, social, and mental health. It does not have to look the same as it did in February. This is your chance to choose what best suits your family’s needs.


tell us what you think 

With gyms, fitness centers, pools and non-contact and low-contact sports leagues reopening statewide, we want to hear from you about your concerns, questions, or even your excitement surrounding this news. Please take 3 minutes to fill out our survey so we can better understand your feelings and address them in the coming weeks.

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Lora Scott, MD

division chief sports medicine
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