10/15/15 Youth Sports

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Recently, NFL player James Harrison returned the sports trophies his two young sons received.

Harrison wanted trophies awarded for merit.

Some argue participation trophies simply reward mediocrity.  But there is another side. Others say they’re an incentive for youngsters to continue in healthy activities. And that can have positive long-term benefits.

So we read study, after study, after study, after study [, after study, after study, after study — okay, the last one isn’t much a study but, we read it anyway].

Results are mixed.  But there are some general conclusions.

Schools with greater sports participation have lower suspension rates. High school athletes are less likely to engage in serious criminal behavior. Although minor criminal activity and delinquency often associated with teens is the same for athletes and non-athletes.

Jocks are more popular, more confident and have higher self-esteem.  They also experience greater personal success later in life.  Additionally they tend to be more active in charitable activities.

It’s not all good news. Those in high-contact sports — football, lacrosse, and ice hockey — are more likely to engage in substance use: alcohol, marijuana, and smokeless tobacco. This is where schools should focus their prevention efforts.  Athletes in non-contact sports are less likely.

A dangerous time for risky behavior is between the end of school and when parents get home. Why not fill that void with sports?  You only have to observe 15-year old girls with their infants to realize they’d be better off making baskets than babies.

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