Positive Effects Sports Have On At-Risk Youth Essay, Research Paper
Positive Effects That Sport Has On At-Risk YouthINTRODUCTION Sports provide many opportunities for our youth today. In fact the British usedsports in educational institutions to develop socialization, social control, and characteron their youth (Sage 1986). Sports also provides an obvious form of entertainment inmany 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 freetime on something constructive. This study agrees that sport does apply a lot ofbenefits for our youth, but what does it do for youths that are in a higher riskenvironment? Children brought up with factors that increase their chances of involvement withlifestyle 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 ofdelinquent behavior. These kinds of behaviors are not kinds that are ideal for a youth togrow up with into adulthood. Some of the delinquent behavior performed by at-riskyouth include criminal activities such as the use of drugs and alcohol. Other behaviorslike 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 lifestylecompromising activities? Many studies have recommended many different kinds ofsolutions. This study will discuss, although it is not the answer, how sport positivelyeffects the behaviors of an at-risk youth.METHOD One of the first tasks that the writer had to accomplish was to learn how to writea research paper. This feat was attempted by reading articles and notes that wereprovided 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 obtainanalytical research information that is provided by The University of Winnipeg. Forexample, there are many journals that have subject matter on the effects that sporthave on youth in general, but not many journals that have articles about the effects thatsport have on at-risk youth. The difficulty of this task was to use the proper searchtechniques that could determine the difference between the two topics. The search forthe different articles were found by using the University of Winnipeg Library databaseswhich could be accessed via the Internet. The University offers a large selection ofjournals and books that can be found through the databases. After selecting the Sport Discus index from the database, a search was startedto find articles pertaining to relevant subject matter. This search had to be done byusing a keyword search in the WebSPIRS search engine that The University ofWinnipeg provides for its students. The search provided results of which journals had arelationship with the keyword. Some keywords that were used to find articles of thesubject matter were: delinquency, youth, crime, at-risk youth, developmental theory,and youth violence. These keywords offered an abundant amount of literature that wasrelevant to this study. Some of the journals and books could be found on the shelves ofThe University of Winnipeg library, while other journals were found on microfilm. Otherarticles were available via email. The articles found were based on surveys done at elementary, middle, and/orhigh schools. Most of the subjects used in these studies were male and female youthsranging in age from 10-17 years old. All of them attended an educational institution.RESULTS Various studies pertaining to this subject matter stated that sport could effectyouth or at-risk youth in different kinds of ways. One way, is that sports could assist insocial development by providing model relationships in sport that the youth couldtransfer to real life, as discussed later in this study. Sports also offer a healthier lifestylebecause it includes physical activity, and also that there is a relationship with physicalfitness and positive behaviors that are needed in order to support a health enhancinglifestyle. DISCUSSION The age that is usually regarded when referring to at-risk youth is the same ageof the adolescent stage of our life. This stage in life is regarded as the high-risk stageof our life. High-risk because it is the stage of our life when we develop more of ahealth enhancing or compromising lifestyle (Collingwood, 1997). The collection of articles used in this study agreed that sport, in general, havemany positive effects on youth. One agreement was that sport promotes a healthylifestyle. Since sports involve physical activity and physical activity is a part of living ahealthy lifestyle, it is hard to argue that it does not. In a study offered by Paluska andSchwenk, it is suggested that depressed people tend to be less physically active thannon-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 isa part of it. One study also suggests that youth could learn how to develop socialrelationships through sport (Sage, 1986). Some relationships developed in sports, forexample, would be an athlete with another athlete, an athlete with a coach, or anathlete with an official. Learning how to interact with these different relationships couldhelp a youth interact with their peers, elders, and authoritative figures in real life. Assuggested in a study conducted by Spott and Doob, delinquency is a youths failure ofsocialization. According to this suggestion, this study could argue that if a youthdevelops good social skills in sport, it would not be as difficult to improve their socialskills in real life as it would be without sports. This is an example of how a lifestyle thatincludes physical activity, including sports, can provide an environment for obtainingattitudes, values, and behaviors that can be transferred to real life situations (Sage,1986). Another study displayed results that fitness programs positively affect at-riskyouth. This study demonstrates that fitness programs lowers substance abuse andcriminal behavior with subjects considered at-risk youth . It also suggested that therewas 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 lifestylethat includes sports, is related to positive behaviors that help youths mature toresponsible adults. This model argues that an exercise lifestyle promotes physicalfitness, physical fitness increases one s self confidence. Self confidence then helpsdevelop self discipline and self discipline gives the ability to set goals. Setting certaingoals increases responsibility, and with increased responsibility comes the readiness toaddress problems (Collingwood, 1997). This model supports the idea that, since itincludes an exercise lifestyle, sport could have positive effects on the well being anddevelopment of life skills in at-risk youth. If at-risk youth had more participation inphysical activity, according to this study, then the youths would have a better chanceobtain 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 practicedproperly then the game is not played properly. Though delinquents were found to havemore difficulty conforming to rules (Serok and Blum,1979), it is a belief of this study thatwith the practice of rules through sport, it is possible to practice the same kind ofbehavior in real life situations. For example, let us say a coach was to ask an athlete torun on the days when the athlete does not practice. Though the athlete might not enjoythe extra work that is involved with this, he would most likely know that it is for his/herown benefit. Likewise with the same kind of situation with a student and a teacher. If ateacher suggested that a student should do a little extra homework, and the studenthas been in a similar situation through sports, it will be more likely that the student willrespond 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 youthcould 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 arelationship from a theory from Mead and Sage, humans are social beings and arisefrom social experience (Sage, 1986). With the practice of these roles a youth can learnhow to stand outside their normal role in society and see themselves related to othersyet distinct (Sage, 1986). This would complement the notion that depressed childrenusually have difficulty socializing with other youths their age (Serok and Blum, 1979). Ifyouths that had difficulty relating to others in society and used a similar role that theypossessed in sports, it could possibly be easier to relate with other youth their age.CONCLUSION All in all, sports have many positive effects on at risk youth. Sports promotesphysical activity which in turn promotes a healthy lifestyle. It is also a way in which anat-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. Positivelifestyle behaviors, such as self-discipline, self-confidence, and responsibility can belearned through sport as well. A lot of behavior that can be learned in sport can betransferred over into real life situations that can help a youth develop their sense ofself. It is evident in this study that sports offer a lot of benefits for the physical andmental well being of a youth in a high risk atmosphere. Not only is sports beneficial forat-risk youths, but sports can also be beneficial for other members of society as well. Ifwe all were able to learn some of the benefits that sport could provide it could possiblymake all of our lives a little more fulfilling.