BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Youth and Sports



Globally, sports remain one of the most popular and widespread activities among youths and children. More so, Football and Swimming are two of the most engaging sports all over the world.

Participation in sports has important benefits for physical, psychological, and social health. Youth development programs based on sports promote a wide range of learning and life skill acquisition. Sport participation encourages a healthy and happy lifestyle and reduces common issues faced by many youths such as obesity and depression. It also fosters physical and emotional health as well as encourages valuable social connections among participants. Besides these health benefits, sport involvement teaches and allows youth to form and strengthen relationships, value self-improvement over winning, remain relevant in a competitive society and work culturally with each other and authorities. It provides opportunities for play, exercise or physical activity and self -expression, acting as a healthy alternative to negative activities such as drug abuse and crime involvement.
Research shows that high school student-athletes are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to go to college.

On an international level, sports act as a uniting force which breaks barriers of differences by creating competition and entertainment. Sport involvement reduces differences in societies and communities which makes it a powerful tool for support and conflict prevention or resolution. Furthermore, a 2008 report on Sport for Development and Peace documented that sports contribute significantly to international, national and local efforts to offer children a healthy start. Sport also equips youth with the information, skills and support needed to transit the key stages of life smoothly and successfully.

Like most good things in life, sports can have some demerits if abused. They become detrimental to health and create negative experiences if overly focused on competition and winning at all costs and disregards the healthy development of youth. These negative experiences may result in low self-esteem, lead to negative relationships, encourage poor sportsmanship, permit aggression and violence, allow discrimination or give room for psychological, sexual and commercial exploitation and abuse. In addition, youth are more susceptible to sports injury due to high degree of training and incomplete development of their musculoskeletal system. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, about 30 million children and adolescents participate in sports just in the United States. Among these participants, approximately 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations are reported each year. Common types of sports-related injuries among youth include sprains, strains and repetitive motion injuries.

To ensure that youth development remains at the center of all sports activities, sports-based youth development (SBYD) theory and practice model is used in programs to place the mental and physical health of a youth over their athletic success. This model ensures free or subsidized programming to reduce the barriers low-income youth face in accessing sports. Additionally, sports coaches should be chosen carefully, ensuring that they emphasize a positive development experience for youth.
Some successful youth icons include:
1. Katie Ledecky, Swimmer
2. Simone Biles, Gymnast
3. Jordan Spieth, Golfer
4. Evgenia Medvedeva, Skater
5. Chloe Kin, Snowboarder
6. Auston Matthews, Hockey
7. Kilian Mbapper Soccer player

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