English 111, T6A
25 Oct 2005
The Benefits of Youth Sports
American culture encourages participation in both the team and individual sports, in favor of the physical, mental, and social benefits they provide the contestants. Sports today constitute a major portion of a child’s development. Participants enjoy physical, mental, and social benefits, yet youth sports continue to endure plenty of criticism. Skeptics allege competition causes damage to the self-images of countless children who lose a match, miss a basket, or strike out. Still, the numerous positive benefits of these types of activities far outweigh any of the perceived negative aspects. Sports teach about life, and youth today need this sort of teaching.
In his article, “Phys Ed, or Self-Esteem?” John Leo points out, “Through sports, children learn how to handle defeat as well as victory – no sulking, gloating, or rubbing it in,” (24). Learning these lessons early gives young people a head start in their transition to adulthood, where they must compete for jobs, learn to meet deadlines, and cooperate on a team to finish important jobs. Many athletic activities nurture and grow the exact behaviors that make people successful in life.
The benefits of physical activity, including organized sports, cannot be stressed enough. According to a professional study which examined the physiological characteristics of young male hockey players, their aerobic capacities increased with age, opposed to very sedentary individuals, whose maximal oxygen uptake actually decreased into adolescence (Brown 159). Sports evidently play a key role in a society’s fitness.
Young athletes enjoy countless health benefits from sports and competition in their lives. Drug use and pregnancy rates for student athletes are significantly lower than the rest of the student population. Youth who participate in sports and other physical activity receive better grades as well (Kuyper). Playing sports can also improve a child’s self-esteem, giving a child something in which he or she can take pride. Children do not need to be all-stars to reap this benefit either. As sports medicine expert Lyle Micheli notes, “Any child who feels as if she is contributing to the team effort will learn self-esteem,” (29).
The most obvious benefit of sports and physical activity, however, is the increased fitness level of all participants. A healthy body more easily fends off illness and even more serious conditions. Adults are not the only ones who have to worry about obesity and heart disease (Kuyper). Sports encourage health in all three areas of physical fitness, cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength and flexibility, and nutrition (Micheli 27). Some critics of organized sports would contest this benefit by suggesting that solitary sports or exercise are better for kids. However, such activities and exercise plans cannot bestow upon the participant any of the social advantages organized sports offer. For instance, a rock climber cannot enjoy the relationship that a point guard will develop with his center even though both athletes may enjoy the physical advantages of their respective sports.
Habituation of physical activity is the most positive aspect of all the physical benefits which organized sports provides to young athletes. A lifestyle which incorporates physical activity will promote health throughout all stages of life, fending off disease, maintaining mental health, and guarding against depression. Youth sports start these habits at a young age, so that children will grow up healthy, exercising regularly, eating healthy food, and continually learning from their experiences in athletics.
Sports taught me much of what I know today about life. Playing basketball, I learned to cooperate with my teammates and devote time and energy toward reaching a goal. Track and Field taught me some of the same things, but also showed me that...