The Long-Term Impacts of Youth Sports Participation

In the current climate of school, tests, and college prep, youth sports amongst other activities have taken a back seat. Youth sports are seen as a distraction to the educational grind in some families. Increasing in communities nationwide amongst kids and adults alike is the level of competition for opportunities. Parents, justifiably, have been enrolling kids in various educational classes and standardized test prep classes. Education is the highest priority for kids, as it should be, but there is a need for youth sports.

My former teachers always recommended doing some type of school related work during the summer, because the time away leads to a loss of focus and practice in what is taught in school. This time off forces teachers to spend a majority of time early in the school year to review time. On the part of students, coming back to school becomes rough because the demands of adjusting to a routine of going to school.

Youth sports is the fact that youth sports give kids exposure to skills that greatly help in school. According to an article on campusexplorer.com, college admission officials heavily consider time management skills, as well as the ability to set and work towards achieving goals, as big plusses in an application. The qualities are instilled while participating in and continuing with youth sports.

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The Intangibles

Apart from time management, other benefits of team sports exist that aren’t talked about as much. As pointed out in muhealth.org, (University of Missouri) team sports at any level require effective communication, teamwork, and problem solving. Especially true during tough situations during games to try and pull out a win. Becoming better in a sport requires the interest in learning, repetition for practice and improvement, and adaptation to various game conditions. Awareness and adaptability are hard to teach, but youth sports are a unique place to practice those skills. The application of these skills are greatly valuable in future jobs, college admissions, and picking up new concepts in school.

Getting exposed to team sports as a child gives more time to pick up skills like these and put them into habit. This can correlate to success in school. More importantly, especially at the youth level, seeing your hard work yield results or positive individual performance can reinforce the idea that hard work can pay off. A consequence of this can be higher self-esteem and a familiarity with this feeling that can greatly help in incentivizing putting in effort in school.

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Real World Benefits of Youth Sports

It is widely pointed out that exercising is a great way to ease tension and stress. In my own life, I used workouts I learned as a kid. The habits I developed while playing youth sports paid dividends in my ability to adapt and cope with my homesickness during college in a different part of the country. An added benefit was that playing sports was a great way to meet new people, and take your mind off things.

Apart from adapting to tough situations, former student athletes tend to display more leadership characteristics and self-confidence. This creates a better chance to have an impact in a working environment, according to a Cornell professors study highlighted in Ithaca.com. It was also found that former student athletes tend to earn higher salaries. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS.org) highlights that students who participate in athletics tend to perform better academically than peers who don’t participate in athletic activities. They specifically highlight school attendance, time on homework, and educational aspirations. They also point out how participation in multiple sports greatly benefits kids especially as they are developing physically and educationally. Building on that, some theories highlighted above return. Participation in extracurricular activities, especially sports, are linked to better cognitive functioning.

Some Data

Their follow up study showed that students who participate in two sports have higher GPA’s than those that only play one sport, and the same goes for those that participate in three over two and one. This also applies to graduation rates according to the study by NFHS. Those participating in three, two, or one sport graduate at a higher rate than on athletes. A study conducted at Northwest Missouri University show that the mean GPA for athletes was 3.25, while for non-athletes was 3.01, and the median was 3.35 vs 3.15. While GPA isn’t the only measure of success, it is one that colleges analyze.

All in all, participating in sports from a young age has more benefits than meet the eye. Getting exposure to skills that translate to college and beyond is a great benefit. The opportunity to put those skills into practice and turn them into habits is a substantially beneficial one. Creating good habits at a young age means more time to see the rewards of those habits. More time also makes it harder and harder to lose those habits as well. As they say, old habits die hard. Actively engaging in sports at a young age, regardless of wins and losses, create those habits. Crucially, encouragement and support go a long way in making the learning process easier, whether it be in school or in sports.

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References

1. https://www.campusexplorer.com/college-advice-tips/C4AA9344/Sports-and-College-Admissions/

2. https://www.muhealth.org/conditions-treatments/pediatrics/adolescent-medicine/benefits-of-sports

3. https://www.ithaca.com/sports/study-finds-long-term-effect-of-high-school-sports/article_ac5b03de-0d00-11e4-a564-001a4bcf887a.html

4. https://www.nfhs.org/media/868994/ws26-gimbert-sawyer.pdf

5. http://www.nwmissouri.edu/library/ResearchPapers/2012/Stegall,%20Ryan.pdf

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