Return of spectators at sporting events good for mental health, says UK research

Return of spectators at sporting events good for mental health, says UK research.

As crowds at sporting events begin to resume, research suggests 48% of Brits believe that the lack of spectator sports throughout the pandemic had a negative impact on people’s mental health.

In a Censuswide survey of 1,000 Brits, commissioned by Ventur – the WSA’s travel partner, it was also found that over a fifth said watching spectator sports, such as football, cricket and rugby, on TV helped with their own mental health during the pandemic.

Forty-nine per cent claimed to be excited about spectator sports resuming as normal and when asked how they felt about the gradual return of sports on TV throughout the pandemic, 23% said it gave them something to look forward to, 17% felt relief at a sense of normality and 16% said it gave them something to talk about.

Almost 3 in 5 (57%) of those who have watched spectator sports during the pandemic said that this enabled them to have the same number of conversations with people throughout lockdown as they would have normally, while a study by mental health charity Mind found that 77% of UK adults used connecting with family and friends online as a positive coping strategy during the pandemic.

Eric Edwards, client services director – groups and sport at Ventur, which specialises in professional sport, group and business travel partnerships, said: “Sport is an integral part of socialising and connecting with others, particularly here in the UK. Having managed the travel for the likes of the England and Wales Cricket Board and British Swimming for decades, we really understood the impact the lack of sports during the pandemic had on not only the teams and organisations, but fans too.”

Thirty-one percent of those surveyed said watching sports on TV made them feel more normal with feelings of happiness and excitement also cited as a result.

Paul Millington, CEO at Ventur, added: “This research certainly demonstrates the importance of conversation to wellbeing and how sports can play a major role in that. As a nation, we chat about sports not only with our friends and family, but with strangers in the street or our local shopkeeper; it’s something which brings us together. Having fans back in stadiums for the likes of the Euros is yet another positive step towards normal life.”

Based in Leeds and Edinburgh, Ventur creates bespoke travel programs for its professional sport, group and corporate clients, by providing tailored advice and expert insight. Earlier this year, the company announced its sponsorship of rugby union team, Leeds Tykes and helped found the Ventur Cup tournament which culminated in a victory for the team in June.

Phil Davies, director of rugby at Leeds Tykes and former rugby player for Wales, said: “We’re immensely thrilled to have Ventur join our journey of rebuilding Leeds Tykes; the Ventur Cup tournament was a brilliant step back into competitive sport and we know it’s had a positive impact on the wellbeing of not only our players, but our very supportive community of fans.

“Ventur’s research into the impact of the lack of sports during the pandemic and the positive effect its return has had is definitely mirrored by our own observations and we’re all hopeful it’s a sign of things to come.”

Ventur also offer a state-of-the-art group portal, which WSA members can access, where travel managers can keep track of everything they need in one place for multiple projects at a time, as well as keeping individual travellers up to date almost seamlessly.

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