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Sports: Keep the Benefits, Lose the Burdens

by Anita Gurian, PhD and

Millions of children and adolescents are enrolled in sports activities. Participation in sports contributes to psychological health in many ways; it promotes social interaction, cooperation, and friendship. Through sports, children and adolescents have opportunities to develop their abilities to think critically and quickly, exercise judgments and solve problems. However, between the ages of 8-13 about 72% of all children drop out of organized sports programs. So why are kids dropping out?

The following articles provide tips for parents to encourage other talents for children who don't like sports and to help children who do like sports avoid some of the pitfalls.

Enticing the Reluctant Athlete
This article looks at reasons that some children are turned off by organized team sports and provides tips to help parents encourage healthy participation. It discussed different options that kids may prefer, from individual sports to drama, music and dance, which can confer many of the benefits of team sports.

Kids and Sports
This CSC Letter reviews the specific ways in which sports affect physical development, academic achievement, character and psychological development. Also included are tips for parents on appropriate sports for preschoolers, school-age children and adolescents. Ways to avoid common pitfalls, such as over-involvement of kids as well as parents, are also covered.

Sports: More than just fun
Issues such as finding a good sports program, when to encourage a child to specialize in one sport, how to relate to coaches, how to avoid injuries, and appropriate ways to praise a child are discussed.

Sports and Kids: Pathway to healthy development or to unhealthy competition?
This article discusses the ways in which sports have been affected by media hype and commercialism and how to make sure your child derives the benefits of positive involvement in sports.

When Good Sport Heroes Go Bad
The publicity given to sports heroes involved in sex and drug scandals may cause children to become disillusioned. This article includes points that parents may use to help children achieve a balance and understand the relationship between athletic talent and personal judgment are presented.