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It’s almost a rite of passage for children, becoming involved with school sponsored sporting activities can enhance school spirit, team work and other positive behaviors in children and teens. But with all of the hype regarding school sports in the news lately, should you allow your child to sign up? At Health Wellness & Beyond, we believe that being involved in school sports has some obvious health benefits, like building strong bones and muscles, weight control, increased self-esteem, and problem solving skills.
Studies have shown that teens who play sports are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, perform better academically and generally have better mental health and increased social skills. According to Sarah Nechuta, an assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, "Adolescent exercise participation was associated with reduced risk of mortality in later life regardless of adult lifestyle or socioeconomic factors." One of the clearest benefits of school-based sports programs can be seen in the overall physical and mental health of children. In addition to the physical and mental health benefits of school sporting activities, children also develop an increased school spirit and team pride which in turn can lead to fewer school drop outs during the high school years.
Studies have also shown that some contact sports can put a child at a higher risk for physical injuries and concussions. Brain injuries at any age should be cause for concern, and for children the number of concussions caused by playing school sponsored contact sports is rising at an alarming rate. These types of injuries can have long lasting effects and research has shown that even one concussion can cause long-lasting issues. Parents should expect and demand proper training of coaches and have a well thought out plan for injury. Parents must also balance the risks vs the benefits of letting their children become involved in school sponsored sports. Many times, you can help your child choose the right sport for them, and remember the ultimate goal is activity, whether school sponsored or not.