Celeste Duran, Features Editor
“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play,” said Mike Singletary, a National Football League (NFL) coach. Mike understands, like so many other people, how important sports are to youth and adults. Organized sports may involve much pressure, but they build character and keep youth in shape. Some people consider sports too intense and not worth the risk. Parents and student athletes need to know what youth sports are all about and be aware of the issues and benefits sports supply, so that they consider every aspect before committing to participation..
Youth sports include any sport in the U.S., from baseball, to squash, to crew. According to The Boston Globe, 45 million youth participate in organized sports annually. Some don't always stick with it, though. The Boston Globe states that by age 15, 80% of youth athletes quit. Most youth find sports too stressful; the pressure of homework and school obligations along with sports is too much for them to handle. Time management is key to maintaining good grades and advancing in a sport. In 2014, there was a record total of almost 7.8 million high schoolers in sports, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). That represented an increase for the 25th year in a row. The most popular sports nowadays are Football (11-player team), Track & Field (outdoor) and Basketball for both genders according to 2012-2013 High School Athletics Participation Survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Even with all the hard work and effort put into sports, the financial payoff comes to only a few. The Boston Globe states only 1% of high school athletes will receive a Division 1 scholarship. Since there are 7.8 million high schoolers in sports, that means only about 78,000 student athletes will receive scholarships nationwide this year. For some athletes, sports is the only way for them to pay college tuition. So if they don't receive a sports scholarship, then they might not go to college.
Many people do not want to play sports because of all the possible injuries an athlete might receive. According to USA Today, 1.35 million children went to the Emergency Room for sports related injuries in 2011 and 2012. This also means that 1 in 5 children that are admitted to the ER are there because of sports injuries, says Safe Kids, CEO. Data from U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System states that in 2012, 12% of all ER visits (163,670) involved a concussion, the equivalent of one every three minutes. Nearly half (47%) occurred in children ages 12 to 15. According to research done earlier this year by Jayanthi and colleagues found that young athletes who played a single sport for more hours a week than years they were old — such as a 10-year-old who played 11 or more hours of soccer — were 70% more likely to experience serious overuse injuries.
Some young people choose not to continue or start sports because of the risk of injury. However, sports can have positive benefits. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends participation in sports to maintain a healthy weight. Active sports, such as cross country and weightlifting, are excellent ways to maintain a healthy weight. Sports can maintain and improve cardiovascular health. According to the British Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, about 40% of deaths related to coronary heart disease are caused by inadequate physical activity, obesity, stress and raised blood pressure. By playing a sport, people can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by approximately 50%.
Playing sports can also decrease some mental health issues, such as depression andanxiety. According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, participating in sports can reduce anxious feelings. They tested two groups who both had anxiety disorders, one which had exercised for 30 minutes and one that had been resting, by chemically inducing a panic attack. Even though both groups had anxious feelings, the exercising group had significantly fewer and less severe panic attacks than the resting group.
Participating in sports can foster leadership and cooperation among athletes. Most sports are team sports, and individual leadership and cooperation among players lead their team to victory. Sports participation also can help build or create relationships with parents, friends, and coaches. It helps self-perception greatly. Since a sport demands physical training, people will most likely gain muscle, slim down, and become physically fit. The Association for Applied Sports Psychology states that for both male and female teens, their level of exercise was positively associated with feeling better about their body image.
People should know what they are getting their child or themselves into when playing sports. There is intensity, but this intensity can be healthy. People suffering from depression and anxiety disorders may benefit from playing sports. The stress of maintaining a healthy balance between sports and school may be too difficult for some students, but for others it can lead them to develop better time management. The benefits do seem to outweigh the risks. All in all, it is the choice of the student athlete to pursue the path of sports and consider every aspect about sport’s training, practice and play.
Editor Board, 2016-2017
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