Children playing sports has significant value beyond the physical benefits and the thrill of competition. Research shows they gain skills on and off the field when participating in organized sports. Sport plays a primarily positive role in youth development, including improved academic achievement, higher self-esteem, fewer behavioral problems, and better psycho-social skills. What’s even more interesting and important is the fact that kids reap the benefits whether or not they excel at their chosen sport.
According to the SFIA (Sports & Fitness Industry Association), in 2007, 34.7% of children ages 6-12 were active three times a week in any sport activity, organized or unstructured; by 2014 that number had dropped to 26.9% (among 13-17 year olds, it fell from 44.7% to 39.8%).
The decline stems from many factors. An espnW/Aspen Institute Project Play Survey of Parents on youth sports issues in September 2014 showed that most parents have concerns about risk of injury (87.9%), the quality or behavior of coaches (81.5%), cost (70.3%), the time commitment required (67.9%), and the emphasis on winning over having fun (66.1%).
Another factor is access or lack thereof to organized sports.
However, the reported developmental and lifelong benefits of a child being involved in team sports is enough that should be considered and evaluated state to state, by communities to encourage more participation as well as close the gap for the areas that lack the access.
According to the Kids Play USA Foundation, kids who play youth sports are more likely to perform well in school;
• have higher grades on national tests; graduate from high school; go to college; become and remain employed; become directors and managers; become business and political leaders; and contribute to society by participating in social and charitable programs.
Getting kids active through sports is also now being recognized as a key obesity prevention strategy.
Children are the future and deserve ample opportunity for success. Altus Parks and Rec is a good place to start to get the children in your life involved in sports.
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