My research paper explains whether or not playing sports affects young children in their everyday life. The reason I chose this topic is because I am interested in finding out if sports helps children’s social development. The relevance of this topic is to see if there is an improvement in the overall development with children who participate in sports compared to children who do not and if there is a difference, than hopefully sports can be one solution to children who have low self-esteem and do not have many friends and may also help motivate kids to do better in school as well.Based on my research findings, I have found that there are many benefits of sports participation in children. Ultimately, the best reason for children to play sports is to have fun. One major problem our country faces today is childhood obesity. According to Becerra (2009), twenty percent of children in the U.S. are obese, which will increase their risk of many health problems when they reach adulthood. One way children can benefit from playing sports is that it is a fun way to exercise and stay healthy. Not only can sports help children to stay healthy and fit, but it also helps build their self-esteem by giving and receiving encouragement from their coaches and gaining respect from fellow teammates or peers. According to Metzl and Shookhoff (2002), when asked why they play sports, kids say it is to have fun, to improve their skills, to learn new skills, to be with friends, to make new friends, to succeed and win, or to be physically fit. Kids have few ways of getting the attention and respect they need. Metzl and Shookhoff (2002) state that, “what is unique about sports is that they offer kids an arena where they can earn attention and respect by exerting their natural abilities (pg.1). Sports also gives kids a chance to release all the stress they have on their minds. They can literally run off the tension that has been building up in their muscles. After releasing you stress when exercising, you can concentrate much better. Exercise improves kids’ academics as well. Research showing a link between fitness and academics is growing. Nixon (2008) mentions that “by acting as a mild stressor, exercise is an alternative way to spur many of the protective benefits associated with calorie restriction and the release of brain-building growth factors, said Carl Cotman, director of the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia at the University of California in Irvine” (par.8). Kids who are more physically fit perform better academically. It is also beneficial for children to participate in sports because sports are a social activity. Team sports are done with other people, but even individual sports are done as a team, such as swimming, golf, and tennis. This leads athletes to develop relationships with teammates, making new friends, thus socially developing. Also being around another adult such as a coach, other than parents or any other blood relatives is another way of developing socially. Metzl and Shookhoff (2002) stated the following:“For young athletes of all ages, attention from interested adults is not only flattering but also helps them overcome shyness and develop poise when talking to relative strangers in social situations. The ability to feel comfortable in a variety of social circumstances will be progressively more valuable in a world of multiple cultures and decreasing numbers of supportive communities” (pg.5).Although there are many benefits to children participating in sports, there are negative effects as well. The coach of youth sports teams has the power to make the experience enjoyable or miserable for the young athlete. Some coaches are in it to win games and championships rather than emphasize learning and enjoyment. Some coaches will act warm and friendly to young players when they perform well but then act like they barely know the youngster when they go into a slump. This can ruin a young person’s attitude and make the experience painful. Also, sports are not risk-free. This is especially true for sports like football or wrestling that are full on contact sports. Injuries are bound to happen. Sometimes parents may also put too much pressure on the young athlete. A father might say something like “I expect you to get at least two hits tonight”, because he hopes to bring out a good performance. Others might indicate that the family name is on the line and issue a threat. “You better not do anything to embarrass me,” could be a parent’s last words before their child takes the field.I myself have been a competitive athlete for thirteen years of my life. I have experienced both the positive and the negative sides of participating in sports. I remember every morning right before school I would have ice skating practice. After I was finished, I felt invigorated and I felt a sense of relief. When I was in school, my mind felt wide awake and it felt very easy for me to concentrate, listen, and understand everything the teacher was saying, especially in math class. Being involved in sports, I matured fairly quickly compared some of my friends who did not do any type of sport. . I was meeting new people and making new friends every day through figure skating and martial arts. Most of the people on my martial arts team were much older than me and being surrounded by them almost every day was what also made me mature quicker and became more and more open as a person as I got older. I was lucky enough to not have parents who forced me to do sports. The main reason why I joined sports in the beginning was because it was fun. I began to feel a lot of pressure from my skating coach when she told me one day to lose weight. This was the first time I had experienced any kind of negativity from my sport. I also faced many injuries as well, but thankfully nothing too serious, although the longest time I had to sit out of training was six months. Facing that negativity from skating made it no longer enjoyable for me so eventually I quit. I am lucky to have a supportive coach and team in martial arts. I feel that being in sports has made me confident, and also made me stronger emotionally because of what I had faced in ice skating.I believe that playing sports definitely affects young children in their ever day life in positive and negative ways. In my opinion and from my personal experience, I feel that the negativity I endured from my coach was actually a good thing for me because it made me stronger as a person and made me grow up. Participating in sports is also a great way for children to start staying healthy and also help them perform better academically. Sports is a great way to relieve stress and for children to makes friends and develop socially and gain self-confidence as well. Although there are some downsides to children doing sports, I believe the good outweighs the bad.
Becerra, J. (2009). Children and Sports. CRS – Behavioral Health Advisor, 1. Retrieved from Health Source – Consumer Edition Database.
Metzl, J D. & Shookhoff, C (2002) Benefits of Youth Sports. In The Young Athlete: A Sports Doctor’s Complete Guide for Parents (Ch. 1, pg.1)