Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Benefits of Youth Sports

We don't usually watch professional or collegiate sports games in my home because my husband and I don't really follow or care about them. It just doesn't matter to me who wins the big game. That being said, my boys who are 8 and 6 are playing soccer currently and baseball season comes next. This summer will bring swim team and then flag football in the fall and basketball in the winter before it all starts over again.

Why have them play sports when all it seems to do is add stress to my life? Getting them to practices and games on time takes effort and is often stressful for me. Then there is the cost. Not just registration fees, but uniforms and equipments and snacks! Why should I (or you) bother with  team sports? Are there any benefits?

There have been several studies about the benefits of youth sports. Some of the findings include:

  • Children athletes watch less television than their non athletic counterparts. (Only 21%  of athletes reported watching more than 21 hours a week versus 35% of non athletes.)
  • The more sports a girl played a year, the higher her body self esteem.
  • Eighty percent of girls who played 3 or more sports a year had healthy BMI, compared with sixty percent for non athletes.
  • While 28% of non athletes had low life quality, only 10% of highly involved athletes did.
  • In two parent homes, family life satisfaction increased as sports participation increased.
  • In single parent homes, daughters higher sports involvement was related to higher levels of family satisfaction.
  • Academic performance increases with sports participation, especially for girls.
  • Parents report improvements in spousal communication and time management when children participate in youth sports.
  • Sports provides opportunities for children to develop skills in cooperation, discipline, leadership and self-control.

While I didn't find any research about the positive outlet for stress release that sports can provide, it is a benefit my brother pointed out was important for my kids too. I don't have any dreams of my kids becoming professional athletes, but I do want them to have fun and enjoy themselves with others in playing sports. So is it worth all the stress and costs? Yes, it is.

This article written by Malina who is trying to make peace with her new role as a soccer mom.

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