Abstract

Context: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of life including youth sports. Little data exists on COVID-19 incidences and risk mitigation strategies in youth club sports.

Objective: To determine the reported incidence of COVID-19 cases among youth club sport athletes and the information sources used to develop COVID-19 risk mitigation procedures.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Online surveys.

Patients: Soccer and volleyball youth club directors.

Intervention: A survey was completed by directors of youth volleyball and soccer clubs across the country in October 2020. Surveys included self-reported date of re-initiation, number of players, player COVID-19 cases, sources of infection, COVID-19 mitigation strategies, and information sources for the development of COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

Main Outcome Measures: Total number of cases reported, number of players, and days since club re-initiation were used to calculate an incidence rate of cases per 100,000 player-days. To compare reported incidence rates between soccer and volleyball, a negative binomial model was developed to predict player cases with sport and state incidence as covariates and log(player-days) as an offset. Estimates were exponentiated to yield a reported incidence rate ratio (IRR) with Wald confidence intervals.

Results: A total of 205,136 athletes (soccer=165,580; volleyball=39,556) were represented by 437 clubs (soccer=159; volleyball=278). Club organizers reported 673 COVID-19 cases (soccer=322; volleyball=351), for a reported incidence rate of 2.8 cases per 100,000 player-days (soccer=1.7, volleyball=7.9). Volleyball had a significantly higher reported COVID-19 incidence rate compared to soccer (reported IRR = 3.06 [2.0–4.6], p<0.001). Out of 11 possible mitigation strategies, the median number of strategies used by all clubs was 7 with an interquartile range of 2.

Conclusions: The incidence of self-reported cases of COVID-19 was lower in soccer clubs than volleyball clubs. Most clubs report using many COVID-19 mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

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