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The Social Effects of Team Sports

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Children need positive role models to develop personality traits and build critical relationship skills. This sample psychology essay shows how team sports impact children's maturity and friendships.

Team sports and individual relationships

Sports undoubtedly have a huge impact on today’s society. Countless people, across all races, ages, genders, and socioeconomic statuses, participate in sports. Schools and recreation centers provide plenty of opportunity for organized sports, while millions of others play recreationally outside of such institutions.

In addition, professional sports such as the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and National Football League (NFL) continue to be a beloved pastime as life-long fans follow every move their team makes; millions tune into sports games on television and radio, and an immeasurable number of kids wear their favorite player’s jersey or tape their poster to a wall.

People tend to glorify sports and those who play them, which surely contributes to many kids having dreams of playing sports professionally. The popularity of sports continues to be strong, especially in regards to youth sports. 45 million children and adolescents in the United States participate in youth sports and three-quarters of American families with school-age children have at least one child who participates in organized sports (Merkel 2013).

Benefits of sports participation

Many discuss the benefits of sports and participation in them, both for individuals and community, but are there negative effects as well? In regards to youth sports, a lack of scientific evidence in the structure of rules, regulations, and guidelines for these sports presents the possibility for negative effects, while some parameters for safety lack even basic common sense. People often hear about the positive emotional and mental benefits sports have, but there can be negative effects as well, in addition to negative societal effects. Whether there are more negative effects or positive, the impact sports have on society as a whole is undeniable.

Preventing childhood obesity with physical activity

There are several positive effects that sports can have, but the most easily perceived one is that they foster physical activity and energy expenditure. A recent study indicated that only 42% of elementary school children undertake the recommended amount of psychical activity a day, while only 8% of adolescents do the same (Merkel 2013).

Research proves that childhood obesity can lead to adulthood obesity and it is estimated that one-third of children born after the year 2000 will encounter some form of diabetes in their lives. Participation in organized sports has been shown to break the cycle of an unhealthy lifestyle and inactivity by improving caloric expenditure, reducing mindless snacking, and increasing the time spent away from entertainment media (Nauert 2010).

In addition, sports provide a venue for children to learn, practice, and develop their gross motor skills. The Center for Disease Control found there to be a positive correlation between students who participate in high levels of physical activity and improved academic achievement, decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes, improved weight control, and less psychological dysfunction; oppositely, children who are obese can often experience a diminished quality of life, difficulties learning, decreased self-confidence, and social discrimination (Tysoe 2014). The physical activity required for organized sports undoubtedly has a positive effect.

Negating high-risk behaviors with team sports

Another positive effect of sports on society is that it seems to ward off high-risk health-related behaviors. In 2000, a study was found that athletes were more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and less likely to engage in consuming unhealthy tobacco products or illicit-drugs than non-athletes, though the frequency of binge-drinking remained consistent (Merkel 2013). Male athletes were found to be less likely than their nonathletic counterparts to carry a weapon or sniff glue. Sports have proven to curb this type of negative behavior and encourage positive, healthy behavior instead.

Studies also indicate that sports play an important role in the lives of girls and women. Physically active girls experience advantages in terms of health and overall well-being. It is imperative to promote exercise in females because the majority of girls do not partake in the recommended level of daily physical activity. Women who are physically active experience a reduced risk for breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, and obesity.

Female athletes who benefit from sporting activities

Furthermore, girls who participate in organized sports help lower rates of teen pregnancy, unprotected sexual intercourse, smoking, drug-use, and suicide than girls who partake in less physical activity (Maddox 2010). These girls are also less likely to experience depression and more likely to achieve high academic goals and improved self-confidence.

Female athletes were shown to have an increased sense of well-being, belonging, and a feeling of purpose. It was found in 2007 that women who played sports in high school were 73% more likely to earn a college degree within six years of graduating high school than women who did not play sports (“Psychological and Social Benefits of Playing True Sport”). This was true even with students who were facing socioeconomic challenges to obtaining their degree.

Mental and emotional health benefits linked to team sports

There is research to suggest that participating in organized sports reduces suicidal thoughts and tendencies in teenagers. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death in adolescents and athletic activity holds many positive psychological benefits. The Centers for Disease Control did a survey in 2005 that demonstrated that those who participate in frequent vigorous physical activity experienced reduced feelings of hopelessness and suicidal tendencies (Tysoe 2014).

The benefits of exercise also include social support and acceptance as part of a team. Athletes who report a strong social support system shown to be more resilient to the negative processes that push individuals to suicide. Students who participated in sports showed more psychosocial benefits compared with those who were in non-physical extracurricular activities (Nauert 2010). Students also demonstrated improved time management, goal-setting, emotional control, collaboration, and intellect. Sports undoubtedly have an effect on participants’ self-esteem and overall emotional and physical well-being.

Sports impact on economic well-being

Sports have been proven to improve social capital, as well. In longitudinal studies, it was proven that men at age 32 who played sports in high school were paid 31% higher wages than men who had not (“Psychological and Social Benefits of Playing True Sport”). As a result of athletic competition, people who have a sports background are often more likely to seek achievement in the workforce.

It has also been proven that participation in sports can have positive effects on community. Research suggests that the longer a young person plays a sport, the greater their attachment to their community. Students who participated in sports were shown to be more likely to register to vote and be invested in their local news (“Psychological and Social Benefits of Playing True Sport”). Youth sports participation is also positively related to adult involvement in community activities.

Negative effects of team sports

One of the negative effects of team sports on society is the pressure it places on individuals to succeed. In the past couple of decades, there has been a stark increase in specialization in youth sports. Many young athletes now choose to participate in a single sport year-round. Often times, these athletes start very young and have infrequent breaks or rest. This kind of concentration leads to an increased risk of sport-related injuries, isolation from their peers, attrition, burnout, and psychological problems (Merkel 2013).

Other antisocial behaviors can be caused by early sports specialization include negative peer interaction, social isolation, and lack of cooperation skills. Today, there is an increased pressure for early sports specialization to maximize the child’s athletic skills for future gain by family, community, schools, and society. The kind of physical and psychological pressure imposed upon the child for this purpose, though, is not worth the outcome. Unfortunately, only 2% of young athletes will reach the highest sporting level (Merkel 2013).

Conclusion

It cannot be denied that team sports have positive effects on society. They can help improve the mental and physical well-being of students and other athletes, it promotes a sense of community pride, encourages valuable character traits, and can have positive long-term effects on those who participate in them. However, the negative effects cannot be denied either. The pressure to succeed in athletics can lead to adverse physical and mental effects on those it is imposed on and can negatively impact the economy. Regardless of the positivity or negativity of team sports, their impact and popularity in society remain extremely prevalent today.

Works Cited

Coates, Dennis. "The Negative Economic Effects Of Sports Franchises." The Negative Economic Effects Of Sports Franchises. University of Maryland, 2000. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Merkel, Donna L. “Youth Sport: Positive and Negative Impact on Young Athletes.” Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine 4 (2013): 151–160. PMC. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Maddox, Theresa. "How Do Sports Affect High School Athletes in a Positive Way? The Classroom. Synonym.com, 2010. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Nauert, Rick. "Physical Activity Helps Improve Social Skills." Psych Central News. PsychCentral, 15 Mar. 2010. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

“Psychological and Social Benefits of Playing True Sport”. TrueSport. USADA, 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Tysoe, Kyle. The Positive Impact of Sport on Youth (n.d.): n. pag. Neumann University. Neumann University, 2014. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Willett, Kaitlin. "Playing Sports Can Have Negative Effect | TheGazette." The Gazette. The Gazette, 2 Dec. 2014. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

 
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Ultius, Inc. "The Social Effects of Team Sports." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. November 02, 2015. http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/the-social-effects-of-team-sports.html.

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Ultius, Inc. "The Social Effects of Team Sports." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. November 02, 2015. http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/the-social-effects-of-team-sports.html.

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