Sports go far beyond physical benefits in a young person’s life. in fact, studies have shown that being involved in sports improves, academics, focus, mental health, decision making, and above all else, playing sports teaches the valuable life lessons of teamwork and leadership.
It has been said that an athletically engaged child is an academically engaged child. And studies have shown a direct correlation between playing sports and academic achievement. A University of Kansas study looking at the performance of students in grades 9 to 12 showed that more than 97% of student athletes graduated high school, 10% higher than those students who had never participated in sports. Student athletes were also shown to have a better overall G.P.A. than non-athletes.
Giving middle school students the access and opportunity to play sports is incredibly valuable! In my teaching experience, it is evident that the students who could not afford to pay sports fees or buy shoes and equipment, were the same students who struggled in school socially and academically. When children come from families with low socio-economic status and they are financially unable to participate in sports, they miss out on all the benefits from playing sports.
There is an increased cognitive ability that comes from playing sports. We know that physical activity naturally increases blood flow to the brain, stimulating endorphins, which positively impact your energy level, your mood, your academic performance, problem-solving abilities, and overall behavior. This positive impact on behavior can be directly related to self-esteem. When my students had low self-esteem, they typically began acting out negatively at school. When these same students got involved in sports, they improved socially and academically, their self-esteem improved, and their behavior problems often diminished. Playing sports is said to bolster the five C’s: competence, confidence, connections, character, and caring. At the heart of this is self-esteem – an increased sense of self as a result of better social interactions, stronger relationships, and higher academic performance.
Playing sports also gives young people a natural sense of community that they may not yet have in their life. My students from foster homes or from financially instable families often feel a lack of community and support at home. A report from True Sport says that youth who play sports have higher levels of social support, and that the sense of community created with teammates, coaches, and family members incubates the perfect setting for critical self-esteem development.
Another reason for this may be that sports, especially team sports, encourages the athlete to constantly work with others, fostering mentorship and team building skills. There are also a variety of other personal attributes and soft skills that allow young people to build positive social relationships. These skills will be a necessity in their future personal and professional relationships. These skills will help them obtain and keep their jobs as they move into careers someday. Critical leadership skills such as communication, teamwork, collaboration, time management, and decision making, are all part of the life lesson learned through playing sports.
You can be a part of helping financially underprivileged youth have the opportunity to participate in sports! Please learn more and donate today at http://www.LandenLucasFoundation.org
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