Coached Sports: Prevent Teens From Smoking And Drinking?

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The years between 10 and 14 are a difficult time for children. They want the independence of their older peers, but they are at an impressionable stage of life. This is a time when they are beginning to shape their lives and starting to really become the people they will be in high school, but also the people they will be for the rest of their lives. They need good role models. In order to fit in, some will just do what their peers are doing. A recent study conducted by Dartmouth researchers suggests having kids from 10 to 14 involved in certain activities may prevent them from becoming involved in dangerous behaviors such as smoking and drinking.

According to the study involving 6,522 tweens and early teenagers, those who participated in a coached team sport at least a few times a week were less likely to try smoking. The study looked at other activities such as sports without a coach, school clubs, choir, band, dance, and clubs outside of school. Only coached teams sports seemed to have an association with whether or not they decided to try smoking. Because of the way the study was conducted, no correlation was established between any specific sports. Interestingly enough, the only activity associated with reduced drinking was participation in clubs outside of school.  Dr. Anna M. Adachi-Mejia, lead author of the study said:

“The thing that’s important here is we’re looking at tweens and . . . often adults think they are old enough to do their own thing, which can be true, but I think it’s a good thing to look at this age group and what are the good after school activities for tweens. During an era of budget cuts and schools feeling like they don’t have the space, the after school time is one where I hope we can pay some attention. . . . Physical activity is something we want to endorse.”

I would love to hear more thoughts on this study and better understand the reasons for these results.

 

The author does, however, point out a very important issue:

“Unfortunately, in the transition from the tween to adolescent years, coached sports teams face pressure to shift from a philosophy of inclusion to a greater emphasis on winning. . . . 

“This shift potentially shuts out tweens with fewer skills and/or lesser interest in facing the pressures associated with increased competition. I’d like to encourage communities and schools to explore the possibility of offering noncompetitive, affordable team sports with a coach.”

Teenagers should be able to keep doing sports just for pleasure and not merely for competition. As a parent, I have encountered this problem. After age 12 (sometimes younger), sports become focused on competition and become stressful. It works for some kids, but it doesn’t work for the majority of them. Teenagers already face a lot of pressure from school, from their peers, and from their parents. They really don’t need more. They need activities to enjoy in their spare time. They need to share good moments with friends. They need activities so they can decompress.

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One Comment on “Coached Sports: Prevent Teens From Smoking And Drinking?”

  1. Lori McGlone Says:

    This is really interesting information and a valuable study! I will definitely share this with my friends who have tweens.

    Reply

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