New Report: Organized Sports and Educational Outcomes

Posted by on March 16, 2009

Organized sports give at-risk youth critical support

A monograph from Team-Up for Youth, which works to expand after-school sports programs for young people in low-income communities, finds that students who participate in organized sports get better grades, are more likely to finish their homework, are less likely to drop out of school, and more likely to attend college. “Learning to Play and Playing to Learn: Organized Sports and Educational Outcomes” surveys more than 60 studies and articles on various aspects of children’s participation in athletics, and concludes that through physical activity, which affects key brain functions critical to learning, and participation in team efforts, low-income youth are better prepared to succeed academically and eventually hold jobs with greater responsibility and higher pay. In particular, African-American and Latina female athletes reported better grades in high school and greater involvement with extracurricular activities than female non-athletes. Opportunities to participate in organized sports are not evenly distributed across the student population, however. One study in the monograph found that 75 percent of children from white middle-class backgrounds participated in organized sports, while only 40 percent to 60 percent of low-income children of color did so.

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