You know about the tragic circumstances that teenagers can get involved in: pregnancy, STDs, alcohol and drugs, bullying, depression, food disorders, suicide, breaking the law, rebellion, gangs, poor grades, dropping out of school, running away from home. You read the news. Other parents tell their horror stories.
You want the best for your child. But there are so many ways to go wrong. What can you do?
One single initiative won’t be enough. But there is one thing that can make a big difference – participation in team sports. Read this article, by Fitzalan Gorman. Here are some of the facts she gleaned from her research:
- Some studies found that students who participated in sports did 10% better in most academic subjects
- Other studies found that the GPA of athletes was a full point higher than nonathletes.
- Female athletes had a 40% greater chance of graduating from college than non-athletes.
It makes sense that athletes perform better in school and more successfully avoid trouble. Participation in team sports is challenging and working hard to achieve team goals can make a kid stronger as a person for later challenges in life. The ax doesn’t get sharper until it’s pressed against a grindstone.
- It isn’t easy to add a sport to an already busy schedule and show up for practice.
- It isn’t easy to work on physical conditioning.
- It isn’t easy to learn and follow the rules of a game.
- It isn’t easy to acquire and refine new skills, and every sport involves skills that take time and effort to master.
- It isn’t easy to get along with a variety of different teammates.
- It isn’t easy to accept a coach’s corrections.
- It isn’t easy to compete against other teams.
- It isn’t easy to play a role while functioning as a team.
- It isn’t easy to put a mistake behind you during the flow of a game.
- It isn’t easy to keep trying when the other team is ahead.
- It isn’t easy to keep your cool and stay focused when the contest gets physical.
- It isn’t easy to give a total effort when you’re tired.
- It isn’t easy to exercise sportsmanship and grace in defeat.
- It isn’t easy to work hard to get better during a long season.
- It isn’t easy to rehab from an injury.
I’ve written about this in a brief book called The Sacred Purpose.
Some of the references cited in Gorman’s article:
- Journal of Sport & Social Issues: Untangling the Links Among Athletic Involvement, Gender, Race, and Adolescent Academic Outcomes
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Did Not Play On Sports Teams
- U.S. News and World Report: Average High School GPAs Increased Since 1990
- Michigan State University: Michigan State Research Finds More Vigorous Exercise Equals Better Academic Performance
- North Carolina High School Athletic Association: High School Athletes Outperform Nonathletes By Wide Margins In Massive Three-Year Academic Study
- Brigham Young University: Girls + High School Sports = College Graduation
- Baker University: Comparing the Academic Performance of High School Athletes and Non-Athletes in Kansas in 2008-2009