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  • Gary Roethenbaugh

Return to racing? Athlete motivations in June 2020, amidst Covid-19

At MultiSport Research we are pleased to release summary findings from a new study into athlete motivations during the current Covid-19 crisis. This tracks sentiment in June 2020, comparing with a previous study undertaken in April.

The research is provided free of charge to industry stakeholders in order to help them plan during these challenging times.

Gary Roethenbaugh, Managing Director at MultiSport Research, said “A big thank you to all athletes who gave up their time during these difficult circumstances.

“The research in June was specifically focused on the USA; and many thanks to the race directors and other industry stakeholders who helped to put the word out.”

Summary findings from the June 2020 Endurance Sport Athlete Motivations Study include:

  • Among survey respondents, compared to April 2020, there is a drop in the levels of worry about Covid-19 – both in terms of health & wellbeing and financial impact.

  • The proportion of endurance athletes expecting to race in summer 2020 is down 64%.

  • Those expecting to return to racing in 2021 are up 82.6%.

  • 62% are ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to enter a time-trial race with staggered start times.

  • Athletes appear willing to tolerate some form of price rise to help keep events viable; although, around 32% are unsure, or unwilling to accept a price rise.

  • 52% have reduced their expenditure on endurance sport gear. Post Covid-19, 22% expect to increase on normal gear spending levels; while 52% expect their endurance gear spending will return to normal levels.

Gary Roethenbaugh added, “A number of athletes indicate a desire to get back racing as soon as possible. Although, there is, not surprisingly, some caution in the air. This is particularly focused on a more imminent restarting of events.

“Expectations have also dropped around a return to summer 2020 racing – with much lower numbers of athletes now expecting to race this summer.

“Around one-quarter, 26%, are expecting to race in Sep-Oct 2020 (versus 34% when asked this question in April 2020).”

The research was undertaken via a new athlete survey. This went live on June 5, 2020 and closed on June 30, 2020. In total, there were 2755 responses across all countries (with 1848 in the USA). The survey covered a number of areas, including:

  • Athletes’ current vs typical participation in endurance sport

  • Increase or decrease in activity due to social distancing

  • Levels of concern about Covid-19

  • Attitudes to training & rescheduled events

  • Views on race cancellations

  • Virtual racing

  • Gear expenditure

  • Athlete types, levels of experience & training hours

  • Summary demographics

A number of new data points were also explored for the latest report, including:

  • June 2020 vs April 2020 survey index to compare shifts in sentiment

  • Attitudes to training & coaching services

  • Attitudes to a safe return to racing, with selected athlete comments

  • Views on increased entry fees & race travel distances

Gary Roethenbaugh added, “We will continue to monitor athlete motivations over the coming months and hope to see the industry adapt to the ‘new normal’ we are currently facing.”

MultiSport Research is planning an update to the research in order to track sentiment as the Covid-19 crisis evolves. To participate in the research or find out more, please get in touch with MultiSport Research directly.



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