Benefits of Youth Sports

The evidence supporting sports participation for young people is overwhelming…It has the power to combat everything from racism to low self-image, to the high-school drop-out rate.” (Sue Castle, Executive Producer of PBS Sports: Get in the Game)

Physical Benefits
Children who play sports develop general physical fitness in a way that’s fun, and they establish lifelong habits for good health. This is particularly important at a time when obesity in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. The incidence of obesity has increased by more than 50% among America’s children and teens since 1976. It continues to grow at a staggering rate. The 2009 National Survey of Children’s Health showed that non-athletes are 60% more likely to be overweight than athletes.

Because sports increase an awareness of one’s body and how it responds to different stimuli and circumstances, sports help prevent drug and alcohol abuse. Most athletes value what their bodies can do and want to maintain those abilities. Being an athlete also gives kids an acceptable reason for telling their friends no to drugs, booze, and other high-risk, unhealthy behavior.

Young people that participate in sports are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as smoking, drugs, sex, and criminal activity. For example:

  • Female high school athletes are 92% less likely to get involved with drugs
  • Female high school athletes are 80% less likely to get pregnant
  • Female high school athletes are 3 time more likely to graduate than non-athletes


Nearly 775,000 youth are involved in gangs.

  • Between 3:00 and 6:00 PM are the peak hours of violent crime, and are also the hours when children are most likely to be the victims of crime
  • Teens left unsupervised 3 or more days per week are twice as likely to hang out with a gang member and three times more likely to be engaged in criminal behavior
  • Areas with high crime rates also tend to have lower rates of physical activities

Studies have shown reduced crime rates in areas with sports-based youth development initiatives.

Participating in youth sports:

  • Builds self-esteem, self-respect and dignity
  • Provides social interaction with peers and adults
  • Helps develop talents
  • Teaches sportsmanship and how to control emotions
  • Teaches teamwork
  • Shows kids how to play within the rules
  • Teaches kids how to deal with adversity by showing them it is all right to make a mistake
  • Instills self-discipline and an awareness of the value of preparation
  • Teaches kids how to deal with criticism
  • Provides leadership opportunities
  • Fosters a sense of community by providing a sense of belonging or to be part of a group
  • Teaches time management and the value of planning ahead
  • Develops skills for handling success and failure
  • Provides a stress relief from academic and social pressures

Societal Benefits

Kids Who Play Youth Sports Are Less Likely To
• contravene the law or go to prison
• join a gang
• abuse alcohol or drugs
• abuse sex or become pregnant
• skip class
• have discipline problems in school
• drop out of school
• become a welfare recipient
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
• contribute to society by participating in social and charitable programs
Girl Athletes Are Prepared for the Workplace
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 Mass Mutual 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.”

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