Participating in athletics is not a magical formula to keep youth out of trouble. A troubled teen doesn’t just put on a basketball jersey and suddenly become a perfect child. However, when he or she takes part in an organized sport, practices every day and learns how to become an integral part of a team, they are less likely to fall into trouble. A teenager with too much idle time can be a recipe for disaster.

When playing a competitive sport you are required to practice. Usually these practices take place 3-5 times per week for 2 hours per day. This leaves less time available for a child to get into mischief. Youth who are fully involved in their sport, are less interested in drinking, drugs and or risky sexual behaviors. Female athletes are 65% less likely to become teen mothers, when they are involved in competitive sports. Student athletes are 70% more likely to keep good grades in order to stay on the team.

Sports have the ability to give teenagers a sense of self worth and accomplishment. Many teen athletes illuminate at the thought of doing something that benefits themselves, their friends and their communities. Having a positive outlet keeps children who would otherwise be involved in gangs, etc, a place to build up their confidence, respect for authority, and develop a work ethic. NFL coach Tony Dungy said it best:

When you represent something that is larger than yourself and means something to others, it changes your perspective. It helps you see directly and in a positive way that what you do can have a positive impact on somebody else’s life.”

In today’s society, it is easy for children to fall off a path of success. Nevertheless, when they are a part of a team, they can learn the necessary tools to avoid a troubling road. Going out and becoming a part of the football team or the swimming team will not rid teens of all their problems.  It is not a cure to teen drug abuse, or any other detrimental behaviors, but it definitely gives them an opportunity to stay on the right side of the law.