By Fred Walker Posted in SPORTS
There’s a reason why youth and college sports are such a mainstay of the American educational experience. There are studies showing the positive health benefits of sports for youth. There is even more data on how sports help students academically. Here’s why it’s important for kids to play sports and the positive effects of sports on academics in the American educational system.
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Most parents realize when young people participate in exercise that there are many health benefits. But there is also an academic benefit that you may not realize as an added bonus of having an athletic overachiever in the family.
While some parents may believe that devoting curriculum time to physical activity has a negative effect on academic achievement, the opposite is true. The research shows that participating in physical activity or sporting events help students achieve higher levels of academic performance. For example:
Florida National University reports on the scientific data that’s out there today:
“Studies have consistently demonstrated that physically active people are not only healthier but also perform better on tests of cerebral or intellectual ability. Some studies even indicate that the results can be expedient; even a quick 5-minute walk can yield immediate results. Most studies show that the more exercise students get, the more proficient their mental faculties and cerebral performance can become.”
The science is out there, and it makes a strong statement that any soccer mom will recognize: There is a positive link between exercise and academic achievement, whether your child is in peewee football or college track.
Sports offer both academic and health benefits for youth. Here are just a few that scientists and educators have recognized:
Beyond these health benefits of sports for youth, there is the benefit of learning new skills and internalizing values that help throughout a student’s life. These young athletes are more likely to be active participants in the community and go on to lead fuller, active lives.
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Students become involved in athletics for all kinds of reasons. Today, there are a variety of sports for male and female students to engage in. Parents should encourage participation in these extracurricular activities to reap these ten benefits.
Athletes represent their community on the athletic field. Visit a high school campus on a Friday night, and you will understand what these athletes mean to the people in the stands. This feeling of community gives students the comfort of finding a place in your home city and having a sense of belonging to something greater than just themselves.
We’ve talked about the health benefits of sports for youth, which is worth mentioning again because childhood obesity is an epidemic. The CDC says 13.7 million children ages two to 19 are considered to have a body mass in the obese range. This puts their health at serious risk.
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An active body fosters an active mind, and there is ample data showing student athletes have better scholastic achievement, participate more in school, and go on to higher education in their later years.
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Student athletes learn soft skills such as patience and persistence and the value of goal setting and achieving it. These are characteristics that the student will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Collaboration and teamwork are some of the most critical job skills that employers look for today. Every team player on the athletic field understands the value of many over the few instinctively. Student athletes learn to figure out their place on the team as part of that process; are they a leader or are they more comfortable in a supporting role.
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Athletes develop positive role models in their coaches and their team leaders. It gives these students the guidance they need during their formative years. These mentors teach the value of hard work and respect, as well as good sportsmanship and the notion playing fair. Like teamwork, these are skills that will stick with these students forever.
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Strong social bonds occur on the athletic field. During high school and college, especially, having these friendships is partially why adults look back so longingly on these years. Student bonding while working together on a team creates a more meaningful experience, and some of these friendships will last into adulthood.
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Leadership is another big reason why sports are essential for youth. Learning valuable leadership skills by playing organized sports helps mold these students into better people. Our communities can reap the benefits of these experiences as these students turn into good people in our neighborhoods and on the job.
Time management is something so many adults struggle with. The student athlete learns to balance workouts, homework, home life, and sporting events. These experiences teach incredible organizational skills that turn these young people into more productive adults over time.
Participating in youth or college sports gives students a “make it happen” success mindset. They learn creative ways to solve problems. They learn to not give up until they reach their goals. They also learn how to lose gracefully, shake themselves off, and try again.
Sports give youth an opportunity to be more connected with their community. This happens through sponsorships by local businesses, connections with other parents, and a sense of pride in representing a school or organization.
The positive effects of sports on academics are myriad. They affect the student’s health, improving heart, lung, and brain function. They also improve the student’s concentration and academic prowess. Finally, exercise and organized sports teach valuable life and job skills that the student will take with them long after their days on the field of play are over.