Youth Sports: Active Kids Do Better Part 2

Welcome to our three-part series on why active kids do better! Thank you, Project Play for inspiring nonprofits like Caris Sports Foundation. Project Play was founded on the principles that “all kids, regardless of zip code or ability, should have access to high-quality youth sport experiences.” Caris Sports Foundation gives Arizona kids the opportunity to participate in organized sports by removing the financial obstacles that keep them on the sidelines. Today we will review the overall health and educational benefits children and teens experience through youth sports.


Studies and evidence suggest exercise is one of the least expensive ways to stay healthy over the course of one’s lifetime. In 2013, the British Journal of Medicine found that “exercise can prevent chronic diseases as effectively as medication.” According to the National Institutes of Health, leisure-time physical activity like recreational walking, yoga, and HIIT, is correlated with a reduced risk of 13 different types of cancer, including breast, colon, liver cancer and myeloid leukemia. Additionally, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found afterschool youth sports programs would have the largest impact in reducing obesity in children aged 6 – 12, 1.8%.


Unfortunately, the obesity rates in children and teens continue to rise. In a 2018 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, obesity rates increased in all age groups among children ages 2 – 19.  Meanwhile, youth sports have seen a significant decline over the last decade across nearly all team sports correlating with increased physical inactivity and pervasiveness of obesity in children and teens.  According to the Journal of American Medicine Association, obesity increased in kids aged 6 – 19 years old from 16.8% (2007-2008) to 18.5% (2015-2016).


The Aspen Institute reports, “Sports participation is a significant predictor of young adults’ participation in sports and physical fitness activities.”

  • Kids that play sports are 8x as likely to be active at age 24 as kids who do not play sports.
  • 77% of adults over 30 who play sports now played sports as children and teens.
  • Only 3% of adults who play sports currently did not play when they were children.


But what about education? The data gets richer, and the results speak for themselves.


  • According to a 2014 study at the University of Quebec en Outaouais that tracked kids from kindergarten through fourth grade, organized sports help children develop and improve cognitive skills.
  • In that same study, the authors point out that physical activity in general is associated with improved academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores.
  • The Government Accountability Office reported in 2012 such activity can affect attitudes and academic behavior, including enhanced concentration, attention, and improved classroom behavior.
  • As reported by the U.S. Department of Education, high school athletes are more likely than non-athletes to attend college and get degrees while team captains and most valuable players achieve in school at even higher rates.
  • High school athletes are more likely to expect to graduate from a four-year college (73% girls, 59% boys) compared to non-athletes (67% girls, 53% boys), according to data collected for the Healthy Sport Index (Women’s Sports Foundation, 2018).
  • A higher percentage of high school athletes also receive A/A- grades than non-athletes (Women’s Sports Foundation, 2018).


At Caris Sports Foundation, we provide financial aid directly to the organization with which successful applicants wish to join. For more information on our application process, click here. Stay tuned as we wrap up this three-part series next week!

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