Benefits of Youth Sports
People often question the value of youth sports. They overlook the many benefits of participation in youth, high school, and college athletics. These benefits have been documented and include everything from lower drug use and higher grades to better health and long-term economic success.
This is a collection of posts from this site that deal with the Benefits of Youth Sports.
Results from a 2002 Mass-Mutual Financial Group and Oppenheimer Funds commissioned survey of more than 400 senior women business executives at companies with more than 100 employees are fascinating:
- 81% played organized team sports growing up and continue to be physically active;
- 86% believed sports helped them to be more disciplined;
- 69% aid sports assisted in the development of their leadership skills and contributed to professional success;
- 68% credited sports with helping them deal with failure;
- 59% noted that sports gave them a competitive edge.
Frances Emerson, senior vice president at MassMutual Financial Group said, “And although participation in sports doesn’t necessarily equate to business success, athletics certainly teach women leadership skills, discipline and the ability to function as part of a team – traits that are key to a satisfying career.”
The full title of the survey is: From the Locker Room to the Boardroom: A Survey on Sports in the Lives of Women Business Executives. I am trying to track down the original survey release. There are numerous citations to this online and in literature. Here’s a link to the press release when the study came out.
Youth sports can have a major positive impact on kids. While old, this study is a big deal. A 1987 survey of individuals at the level of executive vice president or above in Fortune 500 companies indicated the following:
- 95% had participated in high school sports
- 54% were involved in student government
- 43% were in National Honor Society
- 37% in music
- 18% in their school’s publications
I can not track down the actual source for this. However, I have found numerous citations. Here is a link to one in Social Issues in Sports.
A massive 192 page study from the Women’s Sports Foundation published in October, 2008 covers a tremendous amount of ground.
The findings and conclusions in this report are based on two nationwide surveys. The Women’s Sports Foundation commissioned Harris Interactive to complete a school-based survey of youth drawn from a random selection of approximately 100,000 public, private and parochial schools in the United States. The school-based survey method yields highly reliable results. The nationwide sample consists of 2,185 third- through 12th-grade girls and boys. In addition, phone interviews were conducted with a national cross-section of 863 randomly selected parents of children in grades 3 through 12. Parents were asked how they think and feel about their children’s interest and involvement in sports and physical activity. African-American and Hispanic parents were over-sampled in order to deepen understanding of the needs and experiences of underserved girls, boys and their families.
This 2000 study from the Women’s Sports Foundation finds both positive and negative impacts from youth sports participation. They note “That sports have positive impacts on many young people’s lives cannot be argued.”
But they do find things that all parents should also be on the look out for.
Their major conclusions:
- Athletes are less likely to use illicit drugs.
- Mixes findings about anabolic steroids. Female athletes and highly involved male athletes are nearly one and a half times more likely to use steroids than their non-athlete counterparts. Highly involved female athletes were almost twice as likely to use steroids. [note: only 2% of teenage girls overall use anabolic steroids.]
- Only highly involved athletes are more likely to binge drink.
- Athletes are less likely to smoke cigarettes (but more likely to use chewing or dipping tobacco)
- Athletes are less likely to be suicidal.
- Female athletes have more positive body images (but are more likely to attempt weight loss)
- Female athletes are more likely to wear seatbelts but also more likely to drive after drinking.