Suspension of live sport having “significant impact” on mental health of disabled fans

Almost two in five disabled people say the suspension of live sport has had a “significant impact” on their mental health.

The research, published by charity Level Playing Field, aims to understand how disabled supporters feel about the postponement of live sport and restrictions on fan attendance due to Covid-19.

The study comes after separate research found that sport often forms an important pillar in the lives of disabled people. However, with many disabled people now in the Government’s “vulnerable” category, there is a risk that some may not be able to watch live sports for months, if not years, to come.

And, according to the survey, not being able to follow their passion may “significantly” impact on their mental health.

Around 43 per cent of disabled sports fans say the cancellation of sporting events as a result of strict social distancing measures has had a significant effect on their mental wellbeing. This rises to 62 per cent (three in five) should they be unable to attend live events for the remainder of this year.

In light of the results, Level Playing Field is now calling on the Government to ensure disabled sports fans can access live streaming services or make provisions so that disabled supporters can return to live sport “as soon as it is safe to do so”.

“There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our way of life”, said Tony Taylor, Chair of Level Playing Field. “As an organisation that represents disabled sports fans it is important that we can measure the impact; ensure that disabled fans’ views are not being overlooked and provide information to clubs, leagues and government as they plan their way through this unprecedented situation.

“Our survey results from nearly 600 fans have endorsed what Level Playing Field already knew – how important attending live sport is for so many disabled people. But even we were shocked by the extent of the fear and anxiety expressed by some of the responders.”

He added: “Level Playing Field will ensure that this is shared widely with clubs and governing bodies. I am confident that they will find the data from this survey will support them in decision making and planning as sport begins to resume.”

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