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Victoria, B.C. – Sport for Life recently conducted a national survey, based
on Sport Calgary’s municipal work, to measure the operational and financial impacts of COVID-19 on local (community) sports organizations including clubs. Data was collected from 1,300 respondents representing nearly four million members and more than 56 sports.

The national survey results articulate significant operational and
financial ramifications due to COVID-19 and a dire need for support:

  • 99% of Canada’s sports organizations have been affected by COVID-19;
  • 50% will be impacted into 2021;
  • 65% of local clubs and associations cannot access Canadian emergency funding initiatives; and
  • 21% may not recover without emergency support, resulting in less
    opportunities for sport
    , which is likely to especially impact lower socio-economic families.

The organizations reported having a decreased revenue from registration fees, sale of goods, fundraising, sponsorships, as well as numerous other impacts. Most organizations said they are trying to adjust their fixed and variable operating costs to survive. 92 % of sports organizations that organize summer camps may not or will not run this year as a result of COVID-19. This is severely impacting Canadians’ access to healthy activity, both physical and mental, especially those in low socio-economic situations.

Organizations all across the country responded to the survey. The response rate was particularly high in Ottawa. Ottawa Sport Council Executive Director Marcia Morris commented, “In Ottawa, we are very concerned not only about the current financial situation but also the additional financial impact that organizations and participants will face as they return to sport. Given the necessity for physical distancing, the number of participants in the field of play will be significantly reduced. In order for organizations to survive, this will result in higher participant costs which will limit accessibility to sport to only those who can afford to play.”

Survey results also indicated that these sports organizations, which represent about 4% of the sport sector across Canada, collectively employ roughly 14,500 employees. This suggests the viability of the overall community sport sector could affect more than 350,000 jobs, significantly impacting Canada’s unemployment rate.

30% of organizations need only a small amount of emergency funding – less than $20,000 – to help them with COVID-19 inflicted challenges. However, 11% reported needing more than $100,000 to maintain operations.

Beyond funding, survey respondents said they need guidelines, insurance, support from governing bodies, long-term funding, affordable access to facilities, PPE and membership promotion.

“In order to support our sector, the Ottawa Sport Council is working with over 70 sport volunteers including our partners at the City of Ottawa to develop a Return to Play Roadmap which will provide a toolkit and guidelines customized for Ottawa community sport organizations. We all recognize the necessity of working together as a sector to ensure the viability and long-term health all of our member organizations,” added Morris.

Sport for Life will be hosting a webinar on July 22 as a follow up to the survey results, prompting further discussion on its implications, but also the opportunity it presents to reimagine the amateur sport sector. Those interested can register here

“In these turbulent times, sport can build communities, break down barriers and develop resilient people,” said Sport for Life CEO Richard Way. “While the Canadian Heritage Ministry’s $72 million investment in the sport sector at the national and provincial level is appreciated, there’s still a dire need for government investment in local sports clubs and organizations to ensure the sport sector can continue to play an essential role in Canadian health, wellness and the economy.”

Sport for Life would like to sincerely thank Sport Calgary for allowing us to use and disseminate the survey to local sports organizations nationwide.

About Sport for Life

The Sport for Life Society is recognized as the global experts on the Canadian Sport for Life Movement, Long-Term Development in Sport and Physical Activity, and physical literacy development. The purpose of the Canadian Sport for Life Movement is to improve the quality of sport and develop physical literacy. Sport for Life links sport, education, recreation, health and governments to align community, provincial, and national programming. Sport for Life, as a social enterprise using Long-Term Development in Sport and Physical Activity and physical literacy, works to be a catalyst for positive change.

Media Contact
Francesca Jackman
Coordinator, Executive Services