Youth Sport Development and Socialization

Sports writer and editor Richard Tenorio suggests sports play both a positive and negative role in socialization, not only between young athletes and their peer group, but also between children and adults. He also goes on to suggest that sports play differing roles in socialization for boys and girls.

Being apart of a team promotes identity and friend ship. “Sports participation helps create a social identity,” Ann Rosewater wrote in a 2009 study published by Team-Up for Youth. She cited previous research where “high school youth participating in organized sports activities viewed sports as providing a place to meet other young people ‘who had at least one shared interest.’” Indeed, a Wheelock/Boston Youth Sports Initiative 2010 study said “that quality sport programs can help to develop and maintain healthy relationships among youth.”

Sports helps boys and girls socialize in different ways with each other. It could be both positive or negative, Rosewater writes, “Sports participation socializes boys into traditional gender roles, while similar participation socializes girls into nontraditional gender roles.” She says sports have an additional social benefit for female high school student-athletes, who “find participation in sports to be a way to break gender stereotypes, enhancing their sense of possibility.”

Youth sports can also help children learn to interact with adults such as parents and their teachers. The Wheelock/BYSI study reports that the same “quality sport programs” that can benefit interactions between children may also benefit exchanges between “youth and adults.” Rosewater’s research suggests a ripple effect. “Parents promote children’s social development and social skills by enrolling them in programs,” she wrote. “these skills can improve children’s relationships with their teachers.”

Some negatives that sports could bring could be participating in unhealthy social activities: “skipping school, cutting classes, having someone from home called to the school for disciplinary purposes, and being sent to the principal’s office,” Rosewater reported. She also noted, “Abuse of alcohol by adolescents who participate in competitive sports is a social phenomenon — that is, a function of the peer group with which the students are associated.” But she said, “Some studies also show that teens participating in sports report lower use of alcohol than those who are not involved in sports activities.”

Jeremi Davidson who also a sports writer suggest when preschool-aged children participate in sports, it can help with the development of their motor skills. Avoid focusing on the results of this participation at this age and make having fun the main goal. Playing soccer or joining a gymnastics club aids in the development of fundamental motor skills like walking and running, which are good for long-term development.

Sports make it easier for children to get the exercise that they need. Parents should make sure that their children enroll in age-appropriate activities, since kids under the age of 5 might find it difficult to play within the structured rules of a sport, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Once children reach the age of 6, however, they can appreciate the structure of sports like soccer and baseball.The exercise that children get at this age can create a base for a healthy future.

Participating in too many sports can have an adverse effect on a teen’s development, according to an article published in Archives of Disease in Childhood journal. The article surveyed 1,245 individuals between the ages of 16 and 20 in Switzerland and broke sports participation into four categories: low (0 to 3.5 hours per week), average (3.6 to 10.5 hours per week), high (10.6 to 17.5 hours per week) and very high (more than 17.5 hours per week). The result show that youths in the low and very high categories have the highest risk of becoming sick or injured. Those who played about 14 hours of sports weekly had the best chance of staying healthy.

Some children might use sports to establish their identity, especially if they excel at a certain sports from a young age. When these children fail to live up to expectations, it can hurt their self-confidence and lead to developmental problems, notes Parents should help their children to understand that not everything will always go their way in sports and to learn from their failures, as this can help them to avoid excessive stress.

All these writers and surveys can be compared to Coakley and what he found about development and socialization in youth sports. They have positive and negative affects on kids who participate in sports. There are differences between how boys and girls learn and communicate between each other while participating in sports and we see this through both Coakley and the articles I have reviewed and wrote about.


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