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The Importance of Sports

Date Published: Mar, 24 2014

Playing a sport can be one of the biggest commitments a child can make. Choosing a sport, joining a team and practicing regularly are unique experiences that can't be replicated by other activities. Whether you and your child choose a casual ‘everybody plays' team or a more competitive team, your entire family will be making a huge commitment of time and energy.

So, is playing a sport really worth it?

According to a substantial body of research, participating in athletics seems to improve almost every aspect of a child's physical and emotional health. According to the University of Florida Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, students who participate in sports perform better in school, have better social skills and are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Studies have also shown that children and teens who participate in sports are less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.

According to the President's Council on Fitness, girls who participate in sports develop a better body image, more self esteem and confidence than young girls who don't choose to play sports. This is in addition to having a healthier body, more energy, a stronger immune system and better sleep cycles on average than inactive children and teens. The best part is that children receive the benefits whether or not they excel at the sports.

So, why do kids quit sports?

 Like the initial attraction to sports, the reasons for quitting sports can vary from child to child. It's important to remember that children live lives every bit as complex as adults, just with less control over the circumstances. Children might not understand or be able to express why they aren't enjoying a sport anymore. When a younger child complains that the sport ‘isn't fun anymore,' parents should try to dig deeper to discover the source of the problem.

Some children thrive on intense competition, others shy away from it. Even gifted athletes may not enjoy a hyper competitive team and less talented athletes can find a more recreational team boring if it doesn't present a challenge. Adjusting the type of sport and they type of league may be a way to keep a child involved in sports. If the first sport or team doesn't work out, don't give up. It may take several attempts to find the right sport and team for your child.

Many schools require students to maintain a certain grade level to participate in sports. Students who are struggling may be reluctant to try out for teams if they think there is a chance of being kicked off. Sadly, students who are struggling in school or to make grades may need to belong to a team more than anyone. Belonging to a team gives children a sense of belonging, improve their attitude and help them develop the self-discipline they need to get better grades.

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