We cultivated a list of adaptations from a review of documents prepared by states, governing bodies, trade associations, and media reports. An initial survey was pilot tested using professional and academic experts, converging on the 12 most important adaptations. The final survey was distributed to 40 organizations that were prompted to distribute the survey to their members and stakeholders via email and social media, as shown in Table 3. Approval for the study was obtained through the Institutional Review Board at Indiana University.

NameType of Organization
Hamilton County TourismDestination Marketing
Indiana Soccer AssociationGoverning Body
Indiana Fire JuniorsYouth Soccer Club
Max LacrosseYouth and Adult Lacrosse
SBD TournamentsEvent Rights Owner
WYSA Youth Rec SoccerWYSI Youth Rec Sports
Bullpen TournamentsEvent Rights Owner
Empire LacrosseLacrosse Club
Alley Cats Semi-pro Ultimate Team
NXT SportsEvent Rights Owner
Pacers Athletic CenterIndoor Facility
Westside United Youth Soccer Club
Top Tier Sports VenturesEvent Rights Owner
HSE SportsYouth Rec Sports
Lax USAYouth Lacrosse Club
USA FootballGoverning Body
IHSAA Governing Body
Hoosier FCYouth Soccer Club
Indy Select AcademyYouth Football
Music TravelsMarching Band Agency
USIN Governing Body
CrossFit ThriveCrossFit Gym
Westfield Washington SchoolsSchool District
Kohls Kicking CampEvent Rights Owner
US Lax EventsEvent Rights Owner
True LacrosseYouth Lacrosse Club
Bearpaw LacrosseYouth Lacrosse Club
Chicago FireYouth Soccer Club
Cheer MaxYouth Cheerleading
USA GymnasticsGoverning Body
US Youth SoccerGoverning Body
Carmel Dads ClubYouth Rec Sports
Mudsock Youth AthleticsYouth Rec Sports
The CollectiveConsulting Group
Indiana Sports Corp/Sports IndianaSports Commission
Visit Fort Wayne-Sports MarketingDestination Marketing
Maryland Soccer FoundationFoundation
Maryland SoccerPlexFacility
SportsETA BoardProfessional Organization

The 12 adaptations addressed in the survey include:

  1. Arrival and Departure: Changing arrival and departure routines to limit time at the venue (i.e. waiting in the car for game/practice to begin, coming to the facility fully dressed, leaving immediately once the game is over)
  2. No Spectators: Limiting youth sports competitions to players, coaches, and game officials
  3. Spectators under 65 with No CDC-Indicated Underlying Medical Conditions: Limiting spectators at youth sports competitions to immediate family or maximum of two people who are under 65 and have no pre-existing CDC-identified conditions
  4. Health Screening: Answering a questionnaire that asks for contact information, travel itinerary, lodging, and health (fevers, COVID-19 symptoms) to gain venue admission
  5. Social Distancing: Sitting or standing at least six feet apart from others in spectating areas (i.e. blocking access to bleachers, sitting every third seat or row, standing on designated locations)
  6. Social Distancing with Respect: Treating event staff with respect if they approach you to strictly enforce social distance guidelines
  7. Facemasks: Being required to wear a facemask while spectating
  8. Increased Sanitization: Facilities increasing efforts before, during, and after events (i.e. frequent and visible cleaning, hand sanitizer available throughout the venue especially at high touch areas)
  9. Playing Areas and Equipment: Playing areas and equipment being sanitized after each competition
  10. Amenities: Amenities being closed at sports venues (i.e. concessions, drinking fountains, lobbies, playgrounds, entertainment centers)
  11. Bench and Dugouts: Minimizing the capacity of bench and dugout areas for athletes
  12. Personal Contact: Limiting personal contact between players (i.e. handshakes, high fives, hugs)

The Kano Model

The survey questions were designed using the Kano Model, which was selected because of its ability to provide an interpretive framework by pairing satisfaction measures for the presence and absence of COVID-19-related adaptations. The outcome of the Kano Model is the ability to determine how people feel about proposed adaptations to the youth sports experience to promote safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each adaptation contained three questions:

  1. Functional Question: How they feel with the adaptation present
  2. Dysfunctional Question: How they feel without the adaptation present
  3. Importance Question: How important it is to have the adaptation

Every functional and dysfunctional answer pair resulted in a categorical assignment as shown below.


The importance question was asked on a traditional 1-5 Likert-type scale ranging from extremely important (5) to not-at-all important (1). Answers to the functional and dysfunctional pairs were scored on the following scale:

I like it4-2
I expect it that way2-1
I don't care00
I can tolerate it-12
I dislike it-24

The functional question asked about their feelings if the adaptation was present. For example, for "Benches and Dugouts," the functional question asked: During the pandemic, how do you feel about minimizing the capacity of bench and dugout areas for athletes?

The dysfunctional question was similar but asked their feelings if the adaptation did not exist. For example, for “Benches and Dugouts,” the dysfunctional question asked: How do you feel about athletes being allowed to sit in traditional bench and dugout areas at full capacity?

In sum, a total of 36 questions (12 adaptations with 3 questions each) formed the basis of the survey design. Because of the lengthy survey, each respondent randomly received half of the Kano-related questions to facilitate survey completion.

After removing respondents classified into the Questionable category, the mean functional and dysfunctional scores for each adaptation were placed onto a scatterplot, divided into five areas for interpretative purposes as shown below. The size of the dot placed on the graph represents the respondent’s self-stated importance rating; the more important the adaptation, the larger the dot.

Kano Quadrant InterpretationThe quadrants can be interpreted as follows:

  1. Performance: Users like having these adaptations, and dislike not having them. The more of the adaptation that is provided, the more satisfied users become.
  2. Must-be: Adaptations that are expected by users. If the experience does not have them, it will result in significant dissatisfaction.
  3. Reverse: Adaptations that users do not want.
  4. Indifferent: The presence or absence does not make a real difference in the user’s experience. These occur for “I don’t care” or “I can tolerate it” answers for functional and dysfunctional answers.
  5. Attractive: Occurs when users like having an adaptation they were not expecting. Given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was hypothesized that no adaptations would land in this category.

In sum, the answers of the functional, dysfunctional, and importance questions provide a framework for understanding how parents, athletes, coaches, officials, and administrators feel about each COVID-19-related adaptation at youth sports events. In turn, the results, discussed in the next section, can be used by venues and event operators to deliver a safe and user-friendly experience when families, athletes, and officials return to the field.