Sports offer countless social emotional, physical, even educational benefits for children. However, according to recent data, the percentage of children’s sports participation has been steadily dropping - and the hefty and ever increasing costs required to play could be the culprit.
When one considers the advantages of playing a sport, chances are they will think of the physical aspects first and foremost. While there are countless physical benefits to participating in sports and staying active, sports also offer benefits and skills that can be applied to many aspects of a child’s life both on and off the field.
Sports allow children to work with others and develop many key social skills that are carried on throughout life. Almost all sports involve working with others - and even the sports considered “individual,” such as running, swimming and tennis involve some sort of team aspect. Working together allows children to learn teamwork and other “team skills” such as cooperation and support. These skills prove invaluable whether it be on the field, in school or in a job setting. Interacting with others allows children to develop heightened social skills, and when in a competitive setting, children learn to lose graciously, support others and stay motivated. Not to mention, sports allow children to make lasting friendships and personal relationships.
While not commonly known, participation in sports has many educational benefits. According to a recent study which tracked children from kindergarten to fourth grade, organized sports activity helps children develop and improve cognitive skills. Such skills include focus, enhanced concentration, visual attention, fast decision-making and problem solving. In general, exercise is associated with improved academic achievement, ranging from grades in school to standardized test scores. Sports require immense focus and attention to detail, which are both critical to success in the classroom.
Sports allow children to develop key emotional characteristics and traits, such as attitude, attention, determination and concentration. For a lucky select few, success in sports comes merely from natural ability. But, for the vast majority of people, success comes from hard work, determination and learning from mistakes. Failing is inevitable for anyone who plays a sport, and while it can feel terrible in the moment, it allows for children to develop resiliency, determination and mental strength.
Regular physical activity allows people to lead healthy lifestyles. Physical benefits include lower body fat and a lesser risk of obesity, healthy joints, bones and muscles, healthy heart and lung functioning and increased agility, coordination and balance. In addition, when people expel energy and exercise, endorphins are released, causing them to have an improved mood and good mental health.
so, what's the big deal?
Given the various benefits of sports, it is obvious that sports can positively impact a child’s life. However, according to a recent study conducted by the Aspen Institute, only 38% of kids aged 6 to 12 played team sports on a regular basis - down from 45% a decade earlier. In another study, the Aspen Institute found that 1 out of every 3 girls between the ages of 6 to 12 participate in a sport on a regular basis. Given these statistics, the institute decided to find out why the percentage of kids participating was declining. Their findings: the cost. They found that the average amount of spending on sport per child, per year, was approximately $692. Another study from the Women’s Sports Foundation found that cost of participating was a primary barrier for why their daughter dropped out of the sport, especially among families with low household income and Hispanic families. One of the main components of the average cost is equipment. These days, the cost of equipment is ever rising and as sports become more competitive, the cost increases. This causes underprivileged children, especially girls, to be on the sidelines instead of the field.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Every child should be able to participate in sports and retain its many benefits and lessons. At Replay It, we are dedicated to giving children the opportunity to participate in sports through donations of gently used sports gear. If you are fortunate enough to partake in sports and have old equipment that you outgrew or don’t use anymore, please consider donating it to Replay It. Any donation makes an impact!
To read more about how Replay It began, visit the previous blog post. Contact us with any questions and reach out if you are interested in donating!
Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for upcoming posts!