Teens can benefit from participation in team sports in a number of ways. They can improve their physical health, develop skills that will prove invaluable as adults in the workforce, interact socially, and improve their academic performance. It can also help them avoid joining gangs and getting into trouble with the law, and, for a rare few, develop their skills to a point that allows them to play professionally.
The US is currently experiencing an epidemic of obesity. Sedentary lifestyles and work coupled with the growing market for processed foods and the availability of fast foods have combined to create a society that consumes more food than is needed, often consuming empty calories that have no nutritional value. This combined with a lack of physical activity is leading to a growth in many of the diseases and conditions normally associated with obesity, including type 2 diabetes.
The physical activity associated with playing competitive sports helps children and teens become more active. This improves their metabolism and allows them to burn more calories rather than storing that energy as fat. In addition to time spent actually playing the games, teens often meet at other times with their coaches so they can practice and improve their ability to play.
Develop Skills for Adulthood
Most employers are seeking people that can work well as part of a team. They often want leaders, but also need those who can follow direction and contribute a part to a total project that will mesh with parts contributed by other team members. One of the best ways to learn these skills is through participation in sports.
Development of a strong work ethic is often accomplished through being part of a sporting team. There is an old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Teens who are part of organized teams that compete in a league spend a portion of each day practicing to perfect their game. They learn the value of hard work and how much it can improve their performance.
Teens who are members of teams get multiple opportunities to socialize with their peers. These opportunities come during practice sessions, during games, at school, and many other times. They may also socialize with members of opposing teams before and after games.
Research has shown that teens who are active members of sports teams tend to make better grades. In part this is because all schools have academic standards the students must meet in order to be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. This is also true when they go to college, though some schools place so much emphasis on the sports teams that students are guided into extra easy courses. Students learn how to manage their time so they can practice and play while still fulfilling the grade requirements of their school.
Avoid Gangs and Legal Trouble
Students who do not participate in organized sports activities and do live in inner cities often gravitate toward gangs in order to feel they are a part of something larger than themselves. This trend is also growing in the suburbs and some rural areas.
Gangs are used by many drug lords and cartels to distribute their illegal substances. This can lead to numerous entanglements with the authorities as well as contribute to the number of gang-related killings that occur each day.
Students who participate in organized sports as members of a team can get the same sense of belonging without many of the problems associated with gang membership. They also learn to channel their frustrations into their play rather into violent confrontations. In addition, they learn the dangers of drug abuse and learn to stay away from them in order to maintain their health and avoid legal trouble.
While almost anyone can participate and be a team member, there are a rare few who have enough natural talent that their coaches can train them to reach a whole new level in their sports. These rare individuals still must work hard and practice often, but they seem to be almost superhuman in their play performance. For these rare individuals, the opportunity exists to make a career out of playing the games they seem to love. In many different sports, this can lead to incomes that range into the millions of dollars. These special athletes can continue to play as long as they are physically able and retire at a very young age if they so choose and are careful with how they spend their salaries.