There has been a tremendous amount of controversy over the start of schools across the country and while many have adapted to online, hybrid or altered in-person classes, the new school year has brought with it another hot topic – should kids be playing youth sports right now?
This week’s column is not intended to argue the safety of school sports in our current times. For some areas and for some sports, game play may be safe, but in others, that might not be the case. But part of the LEAP Foundation DC mission is to get youth moving to prevent childhood obesity. Studies even show that for those who engage in structured physical activity, such as participation in a marathon through programs like Students Run LA, high school graduation rates are higher and enrollment in college increases.
We believe that organized sports have tremendous advantages for today’s youth. Whether now is the time to begin the season is an issue personal to each state, county, school district and family. Here are just a few of the benefits of participation in youth sports.
Anyone – regardless of their age – gets a confidence boost when goals are reached.
Teamwork and leadership skills – both key takeaways from team sports.
Stress reliever – Physical activity is a great way to burn off excess stress chemicals from a tough test or busy schedule.
Support system – Youth develop incredible bonds with their teammates and there is nothing like having a support system in place to get through life’s tough spots.
Lifelong healthy habits – Those who engage in physical activity early on form habits that increase the likelihood of staying physically active for life, leading to better physical and mental health.
Communication skills – Learning how to communicate effectively is tough, but the need to do so is extremely important when working with a team.
Social skills – Becoming involved in a team sport can help introverted students emerge from their shells.
Sportsmanship – Winning AND LOSING – helps children develop the ability to accept that there will be successes and disappointments in life, allowing them to grow personally.
Healthy competition – Engaging in youth sports allows students to meet others outside of the district, expanding their bubble, while also pushing individuals to commit to work hard to go above and beyond their personal best.