The Benefits of Sports for Education Essay Example


“Three out of four American families with school-aged children have at least one playing an organized sport — a total of about 45 million kids,” describes Jay Atkinson, a writer for the Boston Globe. Most youth play at least one organized sport in their lifetime. There has been a growing trend in athletics throughout the years in the United States; however, there are both benefits and drawbacks to these sports. Youth and teen sports have education and health benefits; however, they have become too intense, causing players to quit, injure themselves, and become too competitive on and off the field.

Youth and teen sports are becoming too intense. Athletes spend an immense amount of time at practice each week. In addition, these athletes often spend their weekends traveling to and from sporting functions and competitions. “There’s no off-season. Our daughter spends 4 to 10 hours a week on the field, depending on games,” argues Lisa Catherine Harper, whose daughter is on a highly competitive soccer team at eleven years old (Schulten). Most athletes, even during off-season, spend substantial time practicing in order to get stronger and better their skills. 

A main reason youth and teens begin sports is because parents believe participation is important for education and health benefits. Playing a sport can reduce the risk of diseases, teach children fundamental skills, and boost self-confidence. However, if sports become too intense, the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. Additionally, parents feel that excelling in sports make their children have a higher chance to be accepted into college, which could create an influx of scholarship opportunities (Harmon). 

Another reason sports can become too intense is due to coaches and parents believing in the idea of winning at all costs. A fine line exists between playing a sport for fun and playing a sport to win. Athletes feel additional stress and pressure when coaches expect their team to win all the time, which can decrease self-esteem. Intensity in athletics causes youth and teens to quit. In an article written in the Boston Globe by Jay Atkinson, he described that by the age of 15, 80% of the total 45 million children and teens who play sports quit (Christensen). After the age of 15, only about 12 million teens participate in an organized sport. Extensive practice, parent pressure, and coach tension cause youth and teen athletics to become too intense, which causes the rate of injuries among these players to increase dramatically. 

The rate of teens becoming injured due to a sport is increasing each year. Most commonly, the type of injury is affected by what sport the athlete plays. For example, the most common injuries in baseball and softball players is elbow and shoulder injuries (Coyner). Whereas, hockey causes hip problems (Coyner). However, one type of injury that is common among most sports is a concussion. Aimee Cunningham reports that “19.5% of U.S. teens reported at least one concussion” and “5.5% of U.S. teens had two or more concussions.” Concussions can sometimes heal quickly, but some can cause other future medical problems. 

Recently more and more kids have started to specialize in only one sport. Over time this causes major overuse injuries. Overuse injuries refers to injuries that are caused from a repeated set of actions as opposed to acute injuries that occur in an instant (Russell). “An increase in overuse injuries [...] are caused by repetitive trauma to tendons, bones, and joints. These injuries can be subtle and happen over time” (Coyner). If youth are involved in more than one sport, their risk of an overuse injury decreases due to different body parts being used. 

Athletes who play contact sports have an increased risk of injury than those who play non-contact sports. Based on statistics from 2009 Consumer Product Safety Commission, “nearly 215,000 children aged 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for football-related injuries,” (Weinstein). These injuries range anywhere from a sprained ankle to a broken arm to a concussion. Contact sports are remarkably more dangerous than sports that do not have contact with other players. For example, a non-contact sport like swimming or golf would have significantly less injuries per year. 

Youth and teen injuries because of sports happen both at practice and games or competitions. However, “62% of all injuries that occur while playing organized sports happen during practice,” (“Sports Injury Statistics”).  This can be very dangerous because more than likely there are not trainers and proper medical equipment at practice. A lack of safety precautions could cause life threatening injuries to an athlete. While injury rates from sports continue to increase, so does competition among athletes and teams.  

Next, kids are becoming more competitive on and off the field. Parents and coaches are putting too much stress on young athletes to win. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry or AACAP explains that it is “important to remember that the attitudes and behavior taught to children in sports carry over to adult life.” Teaching youth and teens to “win at all costs” can carry with them into beliefs and actions in school and throughout adulthood. As well, athletes are not learning good sportsmanship. Especially when the focus on athletics is on winning instead of learning and having fun. Parents and coaches expressing bad sportsmanship and anger after a loss can be detrimental to athletes. “[...] violent parents and poor role models in professional sports may be making child athletes more aggressive and violent” (James). Athletes start to follow the actions of these poor role models, which does not create good sportsmanship and can create a lifetime of poor attitude and actions. 

Extensive pressure and competition for athletes can cause numerous health concerns. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, kids may experience: higher rates of mental illness, increased risk of suicide, self-esteem issues, sleep deprivation, and increased risk of injuries when parents and coaches put them under enormous amounts of pressure (Morin). These health issues can last for a lifetime if pressure and stress become frequent with no solution. Even though youth and teen sports continue to increase in competition, some believe the benefits outweigh the risks in regards to playing a sport.

Some people believe that the educational and health benefits of sports outweigh the intensity, injury rate, and fierce competition. Playing an organized sport at any age is a great physical activity, but playing a sport as a teen is even more important because it is crucial for the development of high schoolers. Health benefits of athletics include: decreasing obesity risk, improved muscle strength, stress relief, and improved overall health. While these health benefits are important among youth and teens, some athletic environments can actually cause stress and injuries. With youth and teens spending a large amount of time at practice each week, athletes become stressed, frustrated, and are bound to become injured at some point in their sporting career. A solution to this is non-competitive sports, which can expose athletes to the same amount of exercise without the intensity. Non-competitive sports can be a beneficial way to incorporate physical activity with a positive learning environment without harmful competition, especially at a very young age. 

Furthermore, the education advantages of sports are tremendous. Athletes learn instruction following, teamwork, leadership, and social skills. However, if athletes are exposed to high amounts of competition and stress, it creates a negative learning environment. Athletes are not able to learn these important life skills in a high stress environment. These life skills can also be taught in school, church, and other activities; without the extensive amount of pressure. Sports with low competition and pressure can have monumental education benefits. 

 Additionally, sports can create more educational opportunities for youth and teens later in life. For example, according to the Aspen Institute, high school athletes are more likely than non-athletes to attend college and get a degree. If you play sports it is more likely that you will go to college and earn a degree and possibly get better grades. Sports can create more opportunities later in life because if you are good at sports in high school, you have a chance to play sports in college and get scholarships. Sports can also be really beneficial to help improve and develop different skills. Test scores, behavior, and attitudes can all be affected if you play sports while in high school. Playing sports can also create enhanced concentration, attention, and improved classroom behavior. However, athletes are only able to benefit from these educational opportunities if the intensity is low, athletes stay committed and do not quit, and stay safe from injuries. 

While youth and teen sports have education and health benefits, they have become too intense, cause immense injuries, and too much competition. With the increasing demand and market for athletics in the United States, every youth is bound to play an organized sport in their lifetime. Even though sports embody education and health benefits, teen sports should still be focused on learning and development instead of the competition among peers.

 

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