Team Sports Help At-Risk Kids Become Healthy Adults

Team Sports Help At-Risk Kids Become Healthy Adults
Published: 2021-07-17

When a kid’s life sucks because of a variety of adversities, often refuge, solace, and comfort are found in the friendship and camaraderie of teammates and that can encourage growth into an emotionally and mentally fit adult. 

So concludes a study published in The Journal of American Medicine Association Pediatrics.

For those of us who intuitively assigned good life values to team sports, this study puts peer-reviewed scholarly balance behind that stance.

Labeled Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) by the team conducting the study, it collates and parses data collected in stages over nearly three decades that interviewed and followed nearly 10,000 individuals, 9,668 to be precise.

The individuals were included if they were exposed to physical and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, parental alcohol misuse, parental incarceration.

The researchers, led by Doctor Molly Easterlin of UCLA, say the findings  mean that "participation in team sports is associated with better mental health outcomes among individuals exposed to adverse childhood experiences.”

In interviews, Dr. Easterlin has said “among children affected by adverse childhood experiences, team sports in adolescence was associated with less depression and anxiety in young adulthood," adding that “when patients screen positive, pediatricians could consider recommending team sports.”

The association between team sports and better mental health was not significantly different for males and females, the study reveals.  It is rich with analysis and methods designed to protect its veracity and supportive of its conclusions.

The study asked young participants if they played baseball, softball, basketball, cheerleading/dance team, field hockey, football, ice hockey, soccer, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball, wrestling, or other sports.

Let’s keep gaming the system.