An Exploration of the Relationship between Campus Recreation Usage at Virginia Tech and the COVID-19 Pandemic

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Throughout the pandemic, Virginia Tech Recreational Sports operations were adapted in compliance with federal, state, and local guideline to ensure the safety of the students it serves as a department. Operational adjustments that were made included closures, limited capacities, and virtual programming to name a few. Participation rates in all areas of Virginia Tech Recreational Sports naturally saw a significant decrease during the pandemic due to these restrictions. This project investigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student engagement in campus recreation, or recreational sports, programs at Virginia Tech with a focus on facility gym swipes, group exercise attendance, and intramural sports involvement spanning three distinct time periods: pre-COVID (T1), during COVID (T2), and post-COVID (T3). Virginia Tech Recreational Sports data uploaded to Virginia Tech’s University Data Commons was used to analyze engagement numbers for students at the undergraduate and graduate level across various demographics including academic college, race/ethnicity, and gender. Statistical tests for significance were not able to be completed with the data in this study alone, so the results were only interpreted qualitatively. This study indicates that there has been a gradual return to pre-COVID engagement and participation levels in all areas of Virginia Tech Recreational Sports, but the return has been varied across each area. Intramurals appears to have higher involvement post-COVID than pre-COVID, whereas gym swipes and group exercise participation numbers have not returned to pre-COVID levels for most demographics. Return to pre-COVID participation levels varies between academic colleges, race/ethnicity, and gender for all areas. Research plays an integral role in informing decisions and developing strategies that will shape the future of campus recreation. Understanding how student engagement has evolved as a result of the pandemic can guide programmers within Virginia Tech Recreational Sports, specifically Director of Rec Sports Ali Cross, to make data-informed decisions for their offerings.



COVID-19, pandemic, fitness, recreation