Do Athletic Kids Fare Better as Adults?

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Teens, Activities: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies

As a parent of three kids, I make it a priority to sign them up for as many different sports as possible, hoping they will continue one or two of them into their teenage and adult years. When I look back at my reasoning behind signing them up, it seems purely physical. I want them to be healthy, strong and fit. Like many other parents, I also want to fill up their time to keep them busy and out of trouble as they get older.

I recently came across an article on the benefits of girls in sports, which discussed the impact of of a federal education law called "Title IX" and showcased some of the "non-physical" benefits of female participation in sports. Aside from the disease-preventing benefits associated with physical activity, it emphasized that kids who engage in sports are developing character traits that will help them in every aspect of their lives.

What Is Title IX?
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid." -- Patsy T. Mink

This 1972 landmark civil rights legislation later became known as Title IX. It spawned the boom of female participation in sports and women have never looked back. U.S. schools are required to provide both sexes with equal opportunities for sports participation and equal numbers of athletic scholarships. They also have to treat male and female teams equally in terms of allocating resources, scheduling events, publicity and access to coaches.

Prior to this legislation, girls rarely participated in sports at the high school and college level. The positive impact on their lives as adults is now evident in the workplace and all social settings.

What are the Benefits of Participating in Sports?
A study published in 2002 showed that athletics help student academic performance in high school more than any other extracurricular activity. Decreased drug use, improved health, better grades, increased confidence and other benefits also have been found by various researchers.

In another recent publication, an economist by the name of Betsey Stevenson showed that increasing girls' participation in sports had a direct effect on women's education and employment. She found that the changes set in motion by Title IX explained about 20 percent of the increase in women's education and about 40 percent of the rise in employment for 25-to-34-year-old women.

Although the article was focused on girls, it is safe to say that the impact of sports on a child's development holds true for boys as well.

Final Thoughts
All of the intangible skills that kids develop as they play on a team are directly useful in real life as an adult. Learning to work as a team, hard work and commitment, importance of practice, competitiveness and discipline are all skills developed in sports that directly impact a child's life. Learning success in sports enables young people to succeed as adults.

Reggie Reyesis a certified kinesiologist and personal trainer. He is the president and founder of pt4kids a company that creates specialized training programs for kids all ages and fitness levels.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.