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As we navigate the age of COVID-19, many have suffered from the restrictions and lockdowns. Kids are among those who have felt the worst affects. Schools were shut down, sports were cancelled and postponed, and social activities for kids were kept to a minimum, if not shut down altogether.
In many states, school sports are still prohibited, and in others they are postponed. But no matter where you are in the reopening process, it’s become very evident that youth sports are not just a time-filler or a convenient past-time. The benefits they provide for children encompass their entire body, mind, and soul.
The most obvious benefit of youth sports is the fact that physical activity helps develop healthy bones, joints, muscles and fends off obesity. It increases cardiovascular fitness, improves coordination and balance, give kids a greater ability to physically relax and improves sleep.
Youth sports helps children develop a love for exercise and a desire for lifelong fitness. That lifestyle as they grow into adults will help control weight and reduce fat, and prevent or delay the development of high blood pressure. According to The Aspen Project, A comprehensive study and analysis of existing research found that leisure-time physical activity is associated with reduced risk of 13 different types of cancer, including breast, colon, liver and myeloid leukemia (National Institutes of Health, 2016).
Although the physical benefits are enough to encourage kids to play, the positive results don’t stop there.
- Youth sports teach discipline
- Youth sports is often the motivation that keeps them in school and pushes them to work hard for college.
- Youth sports help students learn to work toward goals.
- Youth sports teach kids leadership skills and teamwork.
- Youth sports teaches a good work ethic. I’ve talked to more than one business owner who was eager to hire college athletes because they were more likely to understand the value of hard work.
According to studies by the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, exercise can promote increased concentration, better memory, enhanced creativity, more effective problem solving, and an improved mood — all benefits that will extend into the classroom.
A University of Kansas study looked at the school achievements of students in grades 9-12 and learned that more than 97% of student athletes graduated high school, 10% higher than those students who had never participated in sports. Athletes were also shown to have better G.P.A. outcomes than non-athletes.
And the benefits of youth sports go even deeper than body and mind. Youth sports provide a place for kids to make connections with teammates and coaches. For some, it becomes a family.
The isolation of COVID-19 has been felt strongly by kids who usually spend hours in school and in after-school activities with friends. The camaraderie and friendships that come with youth sports are a balm to lockdown-weary children who just want life to be normal again. The need for youth sports is at an all-time high.
For many, youth sports provides an emotional outlet from the hardships of life, whether those problems are at home, in the classroom, or just in their city or state. As a parent, I’d much rather have my kinds turn to sports to help cope, rather than other alternatives.
Although for some, school sports may not be happening, I encourage families to look for alternatives. Your athletes need the outlet of sports for their body, mind and soul.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.