by David Venkatesan, Fundraising and Grant Writing Intern at The Buddy Fund.
Hoping for a bright future? Start by investing in our youth.
For society to advance at its full potential, we must look after those responsible for our future: today’s youth. Of the many ways to help them, emphasizing youth sports participation is a key strategy for ensuring a promising future. Playing sports is quite fun, and engrains components critical to overall success, such as physical and mental well-being. Playing sports has a ripple effect that carries over into other areas of life, and shapes productive individuals which will lead to a better society. There are many underserved areas in great need of youth sports funding, and we must put most of our focus on these underprivileged areas, since we’re only as strong as the weakest link.
Building Productive Habits:
The habit of exercise goes beyond playing sports as a kid. One study used data from a prospective study and follow-up survey to find a link between youth organized sports participation and physical activity in young adulthood. The study split people into three groups, labeled G1, G2, and G3. Group 1 included those who didn’t participate in sports in middle school, high school, or college. Group 2 included those who were involved in middle school sports but no sports in high school or college. Group 3 consisted of those who participated in at least middle and high school sports, with some even participating in college sports. After a 12 year follow-up, those in the G2 and G3 groups reported higher physical activity levels in adulthood. Therefore, the results clearly indicate that those who play sports in their youth are more likely to continue exercising later in life. Given the benefits of physical activity, such as improved immunity and higher self-esteem, exercising is a habit worth establishing early on. Low-income areas often lack the funds necessary for sports programs, so funding these areas would give everyone a fair chance at building healthy habits.
It Pays to Exercise (Literally!):
Yep, you heard that right! An article in the Journal of Labor Research studied the impact that exercise has on employment measures. Looking at statistics from a sample of over 6000 participants, the results show the payoff of engaging in physical activity. For instance, those who don’t exercise regularly (at least once per week) earn an average of $691.38 per week, compared to frequent exercisers, who earn a weekly average of $926.29. Since those who play sports early on are more likely to exercise in the future, they are also more likely to reap the associated benefits as an adult, such as higher wages. The increased income among frequent exercisers can be contributed to many things, such as reduced sick days, more energy, and an improved work ethic, which all contribute to a productive society.
Better Academic Success:
A statewide study by Dr. Roger Whitley explored differences between high school athletes and non-athletes in North Carolina schools through 126,700 students and 133 schools, which provided shocking findings. For instance, the average GPA was 21.6% higher for athletes than non-athletes. If that’s not enough, the graduation rate for athletes was 4.6% higher than their counterparts, and the athletes were also less likely to drop out of high school. Athletes, who are more likely to graduate high school, have the chance to go to college and earn a higher wage. Even if a high school graduate doesn’t go to college, they will still average more earnings than a high school dropout. In underserved areas, characterized by low GPAs and graduation rates, funding sports programs would bridge the gap between their current situation and a promising future.
The research clearly indicates some of the countless benefits associated with playing sports, such as increased graduation rates, higher GPAs, and increased wages. People who play sports at a young age establish the habit of exercise, and are more likely to exercise later in life. It is for these reasons that we must invest in youth sports, because after all, the future is in their hands.
Ready to invest in our youth? Check out the Buddy Fund to see how you can help.
Kosteas, Vasilios D. “The effect of exercise on earnings: Evidence from the NLSY.” Journal of Labor Research 33.2 (2012): 225-250.
Logan, Kelsey et al. “Youth sports participation and health status in early adulthood: A 12-year follow-up.” Preventive medicine reports vol. 19 101107. 5 May. 2020, doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2020.101107
Stobierski, T. (2020, December 14). Average Salary by Education Level: Value of a College Degree. Northeastern University. https://www.northeastern.edu/bachelors-completion/news/average-salary-by-education-level/.
Whitley, Roger L. A Comparison of the Educational Performances of Athletes and Nonathletes in 133 North Carolina High Schools, East Carolina University, Ann Arbor, 1995. ProQuest, http://flagship.luc.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/dissertations-theses/comparison-educational-performances-athletes/docview/304254571/se-2?accountid=12163.