Pioneer Institute & Nichols College Sports Management Policy College Case Competition

In recognition of the cancellation of many student internships for summer 2020, especially those in the sports management industry held concurrently with major sporting events, Pioneer Institute has partnered with Nichols College to provide undergraduate college students an opportunity to solve problems pertinent to the present COVID-19 crisis in a rewarding, competitive format.

Specifically, we plan to facilitate the adaptation of youth sports leagues to these challenging times for the benefit of our children’s physical and mental wellbeing. Enforcing cleanliness procedures among young athletes can be extremely challenging, and we believe this issue deserves more attention in advance of a potential resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall.

  • Your team must be registered by July 15, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. To do so, submit a list of your team members, their email addresses, and their college affiliation(s) using the form below.
  • Pioneer will release the prompt and a list of suggested resources for the competition to all participants on July 16, 2020. We will accept policy statement entries no later than July 25, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.
  • Project teams should include 3-5 participants.
  • Please submit your team’s entry in PDF format and include the team members’ names on the cover page only. These conditions will help us ensure the impartiality of the judges.
  • Please be sure to properly cite the sources of your research, especially if you include data resources external to Pioneer Institute or Nichols College research materials. Plagiarism of any kind will not be tolerated.
  • To submit your entry, please use the form below, or otherwise email a PDF of your final document to before the deadline with the subject line “Nichols Case Competition Entry.”
  • All competitors will be notified whether they have been selected to present their projects to the judges by the week of July 27th, 2020. These teams will then be given a short window of time to arrange a 15-minute Zoom conference with the judges before they determine a winner.
  • Pioneer will send the winners their monetary prizes in mid August 2020, conditional on the submission of a W-9 form. Please send this form to

Submit a policy statement of five pages or fewer describing novel and innovative ways of adapting youth sports for the health and safety demands imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please include:

  • Relevant background information
  • An explanation of the proposed solution(s)
  • How your solution(s) will improve safety for youth athletes and their families
  • The costs and benefits of your approach compared to alternatives
  • Potential obstacles to implementation and enforcement
  • A procedure for determining when, whether, and to what extent your approach is no longer necessary (analogous to, for example, Governor Baker’s reopening plan “phases”)

Your solution(s) should be grounded in concrete principles of both sports management and medical science and should be widely applicable on a national scale. Please feel free to cite examples from other countries or states.

The scope of your work may be narrower than the realm of youth sports as a whole, and we encourage you to examine in-depth policies that approach the issue from a particular angle. For example, you may choose to focus on a particular sport, a particular type of actor (goalie, spectator, coach, etc.), or a particular form of anti-viral equipment (hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, etc.).

While there are no required materials to incorporate into the paper, we recommend that you use the following data sources as a starting point for your research.

Project Play: Coronavirus & Youth Sport

CDC: Youth Sport & Covid 19

State of Massachusetts Youth Sport:

Youth Sport Recovery:

Covid 19 – Return to Youth Sports:

YMCA Adapting and Adjusting:

Sport Should Examine its Role in the Great Reset:

Parent Concerns – Return to Sport:

Return to Play Map:

Covid 19 Data:

Unpacking Coronavirus and Sport:

Health & Human Services Resource Center:

Return to Play:

Fans in the Stands:

What Are We Missing?

The winning team of the competition will receive the $2,000 grand prize, the runner-up team will receive $1,000, and two other teams will be awarded $500, with the proceeds split amongst the team members. Additional rewards include publication opportunities for the students related to their submissions. Pioneer Institute will use our social media network – with access to over 200,000 followers – to promote each entry.

Paul Cacciatore – Vice President of Member Experience & Arena Operations for the Boston Celtics and member of the Nichols College Sports Management Advisory Board

Ellen Roy Herzfelder – former Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs and current member of the Pioneer Institute Board of Directors

Joshua Medeiros – Superintendent of Parks and Recreation at the City of Bristol, Connecticut and Adjunct Professor of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management at Southern Connecticut State University