Organized sports have a lot of effects on children, whether they be positive or negative. Children are still finding out who they are and what the world is like. I chose this topic because I wanted to know childrens’ motives to do organized sports, and what effects the sports have on the them. I wanted to know the reasons kids start playing sports and, while it may be different for every child, they all had to have had some say in it. Every sport has skills that benefit children such as learning leadership, creating realistic goals they can achieve and learning to get along with others.
Children also learn about personal discipline. “What’s even more interesting is that kids derive those benefits whether or not they excel at their chosen sport” (Mary Forgione). When I first saw this quote I was really surprised over the fact that children learn these important life lessons even if they aren’t good at their sport. Ever since I had the chance, I played baseball. Why? I don’t really remember, but I do remember I enjoyed playing the entire time. Now, with my part-time job at Encore Gymnastics, I get to see kids clearly enjoying themselves while learning gymnastics So now I question my own reason for starting sports.
So I want to know: What effects sports have on children physically, mentally and socially? In a lot of situations, parents force their children to do sports. They do this for a variety of reasons, including, learning to cope with defeat and staying humble with victories, making new friends, and gaining self-confidence. Or, for a less appropriate reason, perhaps hoping the child will get a scholarship so they won’t have to pay for college. Parents figure “My child will be a better person because of sports,” which most of the time is true. But if a child doesn’t enjoy their sport, in a lot of situations the child will become miserable.
In some cases the child will go to extremes to make their parents happy, because the child thinks the parent only loves them because they play the sport their parent wants. When the child gets to choose that they want to start playing a sport, this is the best case scenario for a child to get all of the benefits that sports can provide for them. Sports also have an effect on the mindsets of children. “Youth who participate in organized sports during middle and high school do better academically and are offered greater job prospects than children who do not partake in sports activities”(Marilyn Price-Mitchell).
As stated in this quote, children in sports usually do better in school and get better jobs. There are three main psychological aspects that affect children in sports. The intensity of child active in sports has a mental effect on them. The amount of time children spend doing sports each week is particularly important to whether they get positive or negative developmental outcomes from their participation in sports. Kids who spend more time in organized sports have greater benefits than children who participate at lower levels or not at all.
With greater time commitment, children develop better mastery of skills and stronger knowledge of tactics and strategy than other children. This can lead to the development of strategic thinking which is helpful in all aspects of life, including the ability to find and excel in getting a job. No one can tell anyone how many hours of sports per week is the perfect amount. The important thing is that children who make a commitment to regular practice receive greater developmental benefits (Price-Mitchell). Another mental effect of sports on children is continuity.
The stability and length of how children participate, both in practice and competition, across their adolescent years is also important. Studies suggest that intermittent participation during the middle and high school years is not as beneficial as continuous dedication. Making a commitment over time increases the likelihood that children will overcome challenges and obstacles in their performance. They also have greater opportunities to interact with teammates, learning to cope with the interpersonal challenges of working with others. This is an important aspect of developing an internal strength that lasts a lifetime (Price-Mitchell).
The last main mental effect and possibly the most important aspect is balance. Achieving a balance between sports and other activities is what makes sports participation healthy. Studies show that greater developmental outcomes are obtained by children who spend time in activities other than their main sport interests. It’s not necessarily the numbers of activities in which youth participate but rather that they have activities other than sports. For example, one study found children who participated in sports and school clubs had lower rates of depression than kids who focused exclusively on sports.
Other studies suggest that children who participate in activities that present real-world challenges, like volunteering in their communities, achieve greater developmental benefits. These activities encourage children to develop an identity and see a world beyond a game of winning and losing (Price-Mitchell). For parents and children to get desired effects from the child participating in sports, it requires the parent and the child to come to a middle ground of what they both want from the sport. Using this strategy allows the child to get the most out of the sport and stay close to their parents.
If the child is only or mostly pleasing their parents with the choice to play sports, the child will not get all of the psychological effects explained above. On the other hand, if the child is only pleasing themselves with sports and their parents are disapproving. The parents may decide to stop financially supporting the child’s participation in sports, which will once again, stop the child of getting the most of the positive psychological effects explained above (Forgione). Children on teams find it easier to make friends with one another because of the camaraderie that occurs within the team.
They also work together better when the kids on a team become friends, because they feel better when working with one another. Children on a team who also bond with one another will almost always play better. It you take a team with a lot of individual skill but not a lot of teamwork skills and place it against a team with less individual skill, but more teamwork skills. The team with teamwork will almost always come out on top. The reason for this, is the team with little teamwork won’t know how to work with one another and in turn, play worse than the other team (Development).
Children in sports will more often adhere to rules compared to kids who don’t play sports. Kids in sports tend to follow rules because sports have fairly strict rules and people always watching to enforce the rules. Kids are more careful to follow the rules so the don’t get in trouble or get caught (Development). Parents should also be careful when signing their children up for sports; they should know their children’s attentiveness and physical readiness for such activities (Hughes). Sports should also not replace current free play activities of the child.
For some children, informal play is much better for them. Not having set rules and harsh practice schedules is much better for these children. They flourish off of this kind of activity and putting these types of children into organized sports can actually harm them or cause depression. As I walked over to talk to Byron Beckes, my baseball coach from five years ago, he had just finished practice with his little league majors baseball team. I enjoyed the scenery with a bright blue sky and trees all around, and when I walked over to Byron he told the story to his team of when he was coaching me.
We were in the finals of the in-house tournament. I walked up to bat with a man on second base and we were down one run in the bottom final inning with one out. First pitch came a little high and outside but I chose to swing anyway, As I ran to first base I saw the right fielder start to back up as fast as he could. But then he just turned around, stopped running and just stared at the ball as it flew over the fence. Coach Beckes still tells that story to some of the teams he coaches. I think it’s awesome that he still remembers me; he always says “How could I forget? Then we started the questioning. Beckes proceeded to tell me that he has had many experiences with children fro the past 40 years or so and the one with me is one of the most memorable. “I love to help the kids develop skills that they can use to get to the next level,” he said. Beckes also told me that after being a coach for over 40 years, the aggressive competitive levels kids can get to can get really dangerous.
“To the point where kids that are good friends off of the baseball diamond, could be very hostile toward each other on the diamond. Beckes then explained that he definitely enjoys having a positive effect on kids while coaching them. He also thinks that being a good supportive coach that also makes the kids play their hardest is the best kind of coach one could be. He finished with saying “All kids can get their desired effects from sports as long as they exert themselves equally as hard,” Beckes explained. Kids can reduce their chances of become obese by playing youth sports. Youth sports promotes healthy habits that could last a lifetime.
Staying active throughout their younger years can teach kids to stay active the rest of their life. Not only can they reduce body fat, but they can also build some muscles and boost metabolism (Morris). Participation in sports also get positive health effects like decreasing risks of high blood pressure, heart disease diabetes and some types of cancer. Kids who are successful usually go into more rigorous programs for sports which require long practice hours and pushing their bodies to the limit. The kids also, almost never realize the amount of stress they are putting on their bodies.
Often when kids commit too much time into their sport then they are usually the ones who suffer from not being able to compete anymore. As long as kids are dedicated but don’t put their whole lives into their sport, the sport should be beneficial to the child and they should get the most out of their sport. Having children be overly intense in their sport at too young of an age can have bad effects on them for their adult lives and even not allow them to participate in their sport anymore (Ashley). Studies show sports have benefits in keeping kids positive, focused and in school.
Kids in sports are less likely to use drugs, smoke and alcohol compared to kids who don’t participate in sports. Teenage girls in sports are also less likely to become pregnant. Sports and other physical activities activate the release of endorphins in the brain which boost mood and relieve depression. So children in sports are less likely to develop depression than kids not in sports. Sports also relieves anxiety. Girls who participate in sports have increased confidence and healthier bodies than girls who don’t.
Children in sports develop better hand-eye coordination and balance than kids who don’t play sports. Better coordination leads to less problems with tendon and ligament injuries. Children who develop a strong core are less-likely to have injuries during their youth years. No matter how much athletes prepare for more serious injuries, such as fractures, dislocations and concussions, they can still happen. These injuries can all cause permanent damage and maybe even cause the athlete to have to stop playing sports.
According to The Center For Kids First’s survey of 20,000 kids, 65 percent of them joined sports to spend more time with their friends and only 20% of kids said they joined sports to get better (Wilson). Professional sports has a lot of effects on the mindsets of children. Children get to thinking that professional sports is the way to the good life and how to get to riches and fame. In schools, sports are highly appreciated especially in high school. High school kids in sports are usually considered the “cool kids” and are considered that just because they play sports (Griffin).
Well functioned recesses at schools can give more instructional time for the teachers because less recess-related problems between kids carry over into the classroom. Children with recesses that are longer than 15 minutes have less problems during class time and they behave better in class than kids that have shorter recesses. A well-functioning recess can support strong relationships among students, teach conflict resolution and other life skills. School principals are in a position of power for allowing students to have a strong and effective recess. 8 in 10 principals reported that recess has a positive impact on academic success”(Johnson) And “two-thirds of principals reported that students listen better after recess and are more focused in class”(Johnson).
It has also been found that almost all principals say that recess has a positive impact on social development and general well-being. Even though recess has led to success, some schools cut recess time to meet testing requirements. Recess is linked to good student behavior but, most principals still take recess away for bad behavior. When asked what would improve recess at their schools, they prioritized an increase in the number of staff to monitor recess, better equipment, and playground management training, in that order” (Johnson). This just shows how people just don’t realize how effective letting kids have physical activity time is. Recess time at schools is, in almost all cases, beneficial to the students. Schools should make recess time during school just as important as instructional time. Recess is the single biggest source of student disciplinary problems, But all it takes to fix that is to have the school manage their recess more effectively.
There are simple steps in making sure children are kept healthy and flourishing off of sports and physical activities. When the parents and children are on the same page for what they want from the sport, the child will gain more from it. It is also proven that physical activity prevents some diseases and keep a child’s mind healthy. A child will also perform better in school if they do sports or have had a beneficial recess. As long as children enjoy their sport and keep free play activities alongside the sport, the child will mature efficiently and effectively.
Courtney from Study Moose
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