We all know that being active and staying healthy is important for living a better life. But did you know that sports participation promotes multiple healthy behaviors that extend beyond physical health?
- Sports participation is directly related to teens having a more positive attitude toward school work, improved academic performance and higher grades.
- These academic factors are important predictors of future educational attainment and occupational success.
- For measures of truancy, skipping class, and absence due to illness, researchers identified no statistically significant differences between athletes and non-athletes.
- Sports participation is directly related to higher aspirations for earning a college degree and post-college education specialization.
- Significantly higher percentages of athletes studied reported that they aspired to and “definitely will” graduate from a four-year college, and aspired to and “definitely will” attend professional or graduate school after college.
- Compared to non-athletes, a larger percentage of sport participants reported earning an average grade of “A” in school and rated themselves as “above average” on school ability and intelligence.
But despite the obvious benefits, teen girls are less likely than boys to participate in sports:Nearly 40% of teen girls do not participate in sports compared to 25% of teen boys.
Not all sports are created equal.
The study also examined how each unique sport impacted health. Sports like track and field, cross-country, tennis, and soccer are particularly effective in promoting healthy development. A few, including crew and ice hockey, received low ratings due to their higher risk of of poor psychological health and substance abuse.
Want to learn more? Download the full report “Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.”
Nonprofits such as Girls in the Game, Sporty Girls Inc., and Girls on the Run, have programs targeted to girls and promote sport and physical activity for a healthier generation. We’re happy to be in such good company.