The Impact of High School Sports Gabriella Morris 6 Nov 2015 no comments Whatever the sport of choice, many students dedicate 10 hours or more each week to participation in high school athletics, but is this time well spent? The Aspen Institute Project Play compiled the following facts from different studies on the benefits of sports on students: “When researchers from RWJF/Harvard/NPR asked about the positive effects playing sports has had for their children, they pointed to physical health (88%), giving the child something to do (83%), teaching discipline or dedication (81%), teaching how to get along with others (78%), mental health (73%), social life (65%), skills to help in future schooling (56%), and skills to help in a future career (55%).” I spoke with a few coaches on the benefits of organized sports teams on students. They explained, from their perspective, how organized sports serve towards the betterment of their individual athletes, the team as a whole and the families of their athletes. Individual Athletes When athletes participate in sports, they experience numerous benefits. “Physical activity is associated with improved academic achievement including grades and standardized test scores. Further, such activity can affect cognitive skills, attitudes and academic behavior, including enhanced concentration, attention and improved classroom behavior,” (Government Accountability Office, 2012). The study continues to discuss the details of how athletes are less likely to get into trouble, have healthier minds, etc. It also discusses that the number of children not participating in physical activity or organized sports is ascending and is typically followed by obesity. “More children each year are completely inactive, with one in five youth ages 6 to 17 not engaging in any activity.” According to SFIA, The downstream results of developing sedentary lifestyles: In 2014, the number of inactives ages 6+ grew to 28.3% (82.7 million) of the U.S. population, the highest rate in the last six years (Physical Activity Council, 2015). Not only does the activity positively affect the student, often so do the coaches. Many coaches invest not only in their athlete’s career, but in their character as well. When asked what he does to benefit his athletes, Bob Bemis, Coach of HEAT (Home Education Athletic Teams), an athletic program he created for homeschooled across South Florida remarks, “My passion, is helping others achieve personal breakthroughs, be that athletically, spiritually, socially–and often to a place/success they never believed they could go or achieve. My priority is to show them personal successes, big or small, so that they will now believe in me. When we can establish that, I share with the athlete that ‘I have enough patience and belief for both of us,’ and if I can help them achieve something they never knew or believed possible, their entire outlook on life is now enhanced. I focus on the personal and individual growth of the child; the team chemistry comes together more naturally.” As young athletes improve themselves individually, they also join together and grow as a team. Teamwork Teamwork is defined as the combined action of a group of people, especially when effective and efficient. Learning how to work as a team reaches far beyond the sports world. It’s crucial in school, jobs, church and family. One of the most advantageous ways to learn teamwork is through sports. Boca Raton Christian School Coach Greg Calder said he believes, “Team sports give us the chance to practice Christ-likeness in humility, service to others, conflict resolution and encouraging others. Sports also teach us how to handle adversity and trials in life by walking through them with dependence on the strength of the Lord. You discover that there are elements of life that Jesus wants you to control and take responsibility for…things like your thoughts, emotions and attitudes. At the same time sports can assist in teaching someone about how to respond to the elements of life that you do not have control over…how to trust Him when injuries on the team occur, you lose a playoff game due to a mistake by the referee or an opponent says something that is hurtful or disrespectful.” Athlete’s Families The athletes aren’t the only ones who are positively affected by organized sports, sometimes their families are as well. Coach Bob attests that he has seen, “Student athletes on their own who are restructuring their own school day/homework to complete before practices, forcing [families] to tighten up the ship at home and get siblings/family more organized. Athletes on the playing field speaking to their own parents in the stands reminding them to maintain Christ-like behavior [during a game]. Athletes taking home devotions they heard from their teammates at practice and impacting their own families. Families coming together to watch the games/meets/competitions. Not merely a parent, the entire families. The precious and priceless conversations I’m able to have with parents as we’re able to speak of their son/daughter and guiding them through a challenge. Our South Florida HEAT family is truly a family, and the relationships that have formed due to this Sports Ministry have been priceless.” Not only can organized sports positively affect the physical, academic, spiritual and social life of the participating athletes, it impacts the team, their families and even the coaches. For more information, visit aspenprojectplay.org/the-facts. For home school athletics visit, sfheat.org. For Boca Raton Christian School, visit bocachristian.org. Gabriella Morris is a home-school student and writer at Good News. She can be reached [email protected] Photo credit: Tracey O’Connor Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply. You must be logged in to post a comment.