Recent information has come forward suggesting team sport participation can provide benefits for children. Researchers at the University of Wollongong examined the effects of playing sport more than once weekly led to an association with a higher quality of life. This was especially true for females. Areas which benefited included psychological, emotional, social and school functioning. Dr. Stewart Valla collected data over a two year period to obtain the results.
These results are in line with other earlier researchers such as Shields and Bredemeier (1995) who reported a link between youth sport participation and lower rates of delinquent behavior.
Dr. Valla’s work prompted many questions as well as interesting results. As to the mechanism why girls reported extra benefits when compared to boys, Dr. Valla stated “Girls who participate in sports have higher social functioning than girls who do not participate. However, we need to investigate this a little further before we can make firm conclusions about these sex differences and any potential reason why they appear.” An important consideration was that sport participation needed to begin before the age of 8 and participation lasted at least or greater than two years. Not all sports provided equal benefits. Team sports were found to have given greater help in developing social skills. Both individual and team sports demonstrated physical benefits for youth, while team sports showed improved development of social skills when compared to individual sports participants as well as non-participants.
Researchers believe higher quality of life measures are associated with chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease developed later in life. Additionally, depression and other mental illnesses are alleviated by sport participation.
Given these results in addition to previous work, youth sport participation may be a valuable tool for society as it attempts to provide a better living situation for the future.