Monday, May 9, 2011

PART II - SPORTS MATTER... The Benefits of Sports VS. Health & Education Concerns (Achtung Series)

Last week I charged that I would discuss the value of sports, our need to prioritize it and get behind hosting the Olympic Games in Canada instead of opposing it... This is a week of blogs completely dedicated to sports.  My hope - to have you take a second & different look at sports.  Up first on the choping block - The Value of Sports. (Tomorrow's Blog - Why Sports needs to be a priority in Canada)

Ask any Canadian and usually they will tell you education and healthcare are their top concerns when it comes to funding and politics.  Education concerns include literacy, problem-solving, making the grade and post-secondary education.  Conversely, healthcare is under the strain of the aging baby boomers and diseases such as Type II diabetes (once only seen in adults) rapidly being seen in kids at an alarming rate.  Saying our healthcare is stressed is in an understatement.  The number one cause of death in Canada is lifestyle related (i.e. cancer & heart disease)… Not age related!  Considered another way, people are expiring well BEFORE they are intended to and it is preventative! 

And in the midst of this you have athletes, sports organization and recreation requesting support from the government.  Not surprisingly, the average Canadian is not so eager to support sports when we can barely afford the demands of education and healthcare (Canadian’s priority).

However, I argue sports just may be the cornerstone and saving grace to education and healthcare concerns.  While many Canadians may be up in arms of supporting athletes and the participation of sports in Canada - activities which PREVENT the dependency on our healthcare system - wouldn’t it make more sense to be up in arms over people who choose to have a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle crippling our health care system?

Likewise, what if I was to tell you that being involved in sports, taught youth transferable skills to academics and that they were more likely to achieve a higher level of education?  Wouldn’t it be a worthwhile endeavor to invest into?

It’s time that Canadians stop treating sports as just an extracurricular activity, and realize our future of free healthcare and formidable education is dependent on it.   Here is a glimpse at just a few of the benefits that sports offers (beyond the podium).

Photo: An important life lesson. Tyler Anderson
 A Few Benefits of Sports 
  • Contribute significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • Prevents healthcare expenditure
  • Leads to fewer sick days, reduced turn-over and to increased productivity at work
  • Leads to fewer sick days and to increased productivity at school
  • A key component to preventing many illnesses and treating diseases
  • Improves one’s psychological/mental wellness (i.e. depression)
  • Improves the quality of one’s life
  • Youth are less likely to engage in risky behavior
  • Youth are less likely to join a gang
  • Youth are less likely to experience teenage pregnancy
  • More likely to be involved in physical activity and adopt a healthy lifestyle for one’s entire life if involved in sports during high school – THIS COULD BE THE KEY TO REDUCING HEALTHCARE COSTS IN THE FUTURE!
  • More likely to adopt a healthy eating habits
  • Linked to positive educational trajectories
  • Makes school a more enjoyable experience
  • More likely to achieve higher grades
  • More likely to achieve a higher level of education
  • Teaches transferable skills to academic learning
  • Builds character  (i.e. perseverance, willingness to take risk, discipline… etc)
  • Improves memory, observation, problems-solving, decision making, attitude, behaviour, and creativity
  • Teaches the value of applying effort
  • Teaches effective goal-setting
  • Promotes will power
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Teaches students how to handle failures
  • Teaches students resiliency
  • Teaches the pursuit of excellence both on and off the field
  • Teaches team work
  • Teaches how to multitask
  • Teaches how to effectively manage one’s time


  • Teaches discipline
  • Teaches how to support others
  • Forges friendship
  • More likely to engage in citizenship and social responsibility (giving back to the community)
  • Stops wars – THAT’S PRETTY IMPRESSIVE (what else does that?)
  • Supports cultural development of a country
  • Exposes young athletes to cultures and varying world attitudes
  • Appreciates diversity
  • Does not discriminate


REFERENCES
Eccles, J. S., & Barber, B. L., 1999. Student council, volunteering, basketball, or marching band: What kind of extracurricular involvement matters? Journal of Adolescent Research. 14, 10-43.

Erin Hoops Basketball's Effect on Learning


Guest, A & Schneider B., 2003. Adolescents' extracurricular participation in context: The mediating effects of schools, communities, and identity. Sociology of Education. 76, 89-109.  


Katz, N., 2001. Sports teams as a model for workplace teams: Lessons and liabilities. Academy of Management Executive. 15, 56-67.

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