Good Sports: Positive Effects Of Sport On Youth Essay, Research Paper
Sports provide many opportunities for our youth today. In fact the British used
sports in educational institutions to develop socialization, social control, and character
on their youth (Sage 1986). Sports also provides an obvious form of entertainment in
many societies as well. Many role models, heroes, and idols can originate from sports.
It also provides a mean of recreation for youth to participate in and spend some free
time on something constructive. This study agrees that sport does apply a lot of
benefits for our youth, but what does it do for youths that are in a higher risk
Children brought up with factors that increase their chances of involvement with
lifestyle compromising activities, for the purposes of this study, will be referred to as
“at-risk youth”. Lifestyle compromising activities can also be seen as a type of
delinquent behavior. These kinds of behaviors are not kinds that are ideal for a youth to
grow up with into adulthood. Some of the delinquent behavior performed by at-risk
youth include criminal activities such as the use of drugs and alcohol. Other behaviors
like violence, truancy, and depression can also be originated by delinquent behavior
(The Bureau for At-Risk Youth 1996).
What can be done to prevent at-risk youth to participate in lifestyle
compromising activities? Many studies have recommended many different kinds of
solutions. This study will discuss, although it is not the answer, how sport positively
effects the behaviors of an at-risk youth.
One of the first tasks that the writer had to accomplish was to learn how to write
a research paper. This feat was attempted by reading articles and notes that were
provided in the note package from the Physical Activity and Sport Studies course,
taught by Thomas Patrick. Secondly, the writer also had to learn how to obtain
analytical research information that is provided by The University of Winnipeg. For
example, there are many journals that have subject matter on the effects that sport
have on youth in general, but not many journals that have articles about the effects that
sport have on at-risk youth. The difficulty of this task was to use the proper search
techniques that could determine the difference between the two topics. The search for
the different articles were found by using the University of Winnipeg Library databases
which could be accessed via the Internet. The University offers a large selection of
journals and books that can be found through the databases.
After selecting the Sport Discus index from the database, a search was started
to find articles pertaining to relevant subject matter. This search had to be done by
using a “keyword search” in the WebSPIRS search engine that The University of
Winnipeg provides for its students. The search provided results of which journals had a
relationship with the keyword. Some keywords that were used to find articles of the
subject matter were: delinquency, youth, crime, at-risk youth, developmental theory,
and youth violence. These keywords offered an abundant amount of literature that was
relevant to this study. Some of the journals and books could be found on the shelves of
The University of Winnipeg library, while other journals were found on microfilm. Other
articles were available via email.
The articles found were based on surveys done at elementary, middle, and/or
high schools. Most of the subjects used in these studies were male and female youths
ranging in age from 10-17 years old. All of them attended an educational institution.
Various studies pertaining to this subject matter stated that sport could effect
youth or at-risk youth in different kinds of ways. One way, is that sports could assist in
social development by providing model relationships in sport that the youth could
transfer to real life, as discussed later in this study. Sports also offer a healthier lifestyle
because it includes physical activity, and also that there is a relationship with physical
fitness and positive behaviors that are needed in order to support a health enhancing
The age that is usually regarded when referring to at-risk youth is the same age
of the adolescent stage of our life. This stage in life is regarded as the high-risk stage
of our life. High-risk because it is the stage of our life when we develop more of a
health enhancing or compromising lifestyle (Collingwood, 1997).
The collection of articles used in this study agreed that sport, in general, have
many positive effects on youth. One agreement was that sport promotes a healthy
lifestyle. Since sports involve physical activity and physical activity is a part of living a
healthy lifestyle, it is hard to argue that it does not. In a study offered by Paluska and
Schwenk, it is suggested that depressed people tend to be less physically active than
non-depressed people. Based on this study, if a youth participated in sport it is less
likely that he/ she will be depressed versus someone who does not participate in sport.
Although sport alone is not the way to achieve a healthy lifestyle, as stated above, it is
a part of it.
One study also suggests that youth could learn how to develop social
relationships through sport (Sage, 1986). Some relationships developed in sports, for
example, would be an athlete with another athlete, an athlete with a coach, or an
athlete with an official. Learning how to interact with these different relationships could
help a youth interact with their peers, elders, and authoritative figures in real life. As
suggested in a study conducted by Spott and Doob, delinquency is a youths failure of
socialization. According to this suggestion, this study could argue that if a youth
develops good social skills in sport, it would not be as difficult to improve their social
skills in real life as it would be without sports. This is an example of how a lifestyle that
includes physical activity, including sports, can provide an environment for obtaining
attitudes, values, and behaviors that can be transferred to real life situations (Sage,
Another study displayed results that fitness programs positively affect at-risk
youth. This study demonstrates that fitness programs lowers substance abuse and
criminal behavior with subjects considered “at-risk youth”. It also suggested that there
was an increase in self-esteem, well being, and development in life skills (Collingwood,
1997). A model showed a good relationship how an exercise lifestyle, a similar lifestyle
that includes sports, is related to positive behaviors that help youths mature to
responsible adults. This model argues that an exercise lifestyle promotes physical
fitness, physical fitness increases one’s self confidence.Self confidence then helps
develop self discipline and self discipline gives the ability to set goals. Setting certain
goals increases responsibility, and with increased responsibility comes the readiness to
address problems (Collingwood, 1997). This model supports the idea that, since it
includes an exercise lifestyle, sport could have positive effects on the well being and
development of life skills in at-risk youth. If at-risk youth had more participation in
physical activity, according to this study, then the youths would have a better chance
obtain positive behaviors need for a healthy lifestyle.
The practice of rules is often an important practice when participating in sports.
Rules define the parameters on how a game is played. If the rules are not practiced
properly then the game is not played properly. Though delinquents were found to have
more difficulty conforming to rules (Serok and Blum,1979), it is a belief of this study that
with the practice of rules through sport, it is possible to practice the same kind of
behavior in real life situations. For example, let us say a coach was to ask an athlete to
run on the days when the athlete does not practice. Though the athlete might not enjoy
the extra work that is involved with this, he would most likely know that it is for his/her
own benefit. Likewise with the same kind of situation with a student and a teacher. If a
teacher suggested that a student should do a little extra homework, and the student
has been in a similar situation through sports, it will be more likely that the student will
respond more positively than a student that has not been in that kind of situation.
Many roles are identified in sports. Some examples of some roles that a youth
could find themselves acting would be an athlete, team mate, spectator, and supporter.
These roles can have a positive effect on at-risk youth because, as explained in a
relationship from a theory from Mead and Sage, humans are social beings and arise
from social experience (Sage, 1986). With the practice of these roles a youth can learn
how to stand outside their normal role in society and see themselves related to others
yet distinct (Sage, 1986). This would complement the notion that depressed children
usually have difficulty socializing with other youths their age (Serok and Blum, 1979). If
youths that had difficulty relating to others in society and used a similar role that they
possessed in sports, it could possibly be easier to relate with other youth their age.
All in all, sports have many positive effects on at risk youth. Sports promotes
physical activity which in turn promotes a healthy lifestyle. It is also a way in which an
at-risk youth can practice their ability to interact within different kinds of relationships.
Depression among youths can also be reduced by the participation in sport. Positive
lifestyle behaviors, such as self-discipline, self-confidence, and responsibility can be
learned through sport as well. A lot of behavior that can be learned in sport can be
transferred over into real life situations that can help a youth develop their sense of
It is evident in this study that sports offer a lot of benefits for the physical and
mental well being of a youth in a high risk atmosphere. Not only is sports beneficial for
at-risk youths, but sports can also be beneficial for other members of society as well. If
we all were able to learn some of the benefits that sport could provide it could possibly
make all of our lives a little more fulfilling.
Spott and Doob. “Bad,sad, and rejected: The lives of agressive children.”
Canadian journal of Criminology (April 2000): 36-54
Sage, G. “Effects of Physical Activity on Children”.
American Academy of Physical Education Papers No.19 (1986): 22-29
Collingwood. “Providing Physical Fitness Programs to At-Risk Youth.”
Quest. (Feb 1997): 67-84
Serok and Blum. “Games: a treament vehicle for delinquent youth.”
Crime and Delinquency (July 1979): 358-365
Feigin,N. “Participation in High School Competitive Sports: A Subversion of School
Mission or Contribution to Academic Goals.”
Sociology of Sport (Sept 1994): 211-230
Paluska and Scwenk. “Physical Activity and Mental Health:Current Concepts.”
Sports Medicine (Mar 2000): 167-180