Back to Living Real Change
Boy kicking a soccer ball

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Organized Sports for Kids

While each child is different and participation in sports should be a joint decision between the parent, child and their trusted physician, experts say there are often mental, emotional, social and physical benefits for children who participate in organized sports.

Research shows that participation in youth sports can be linked to immediate and long-term health benefits for youth, according to Bozeman Sherwood, M.D.

“Participation in organized sports can lower stress, anxiety and depression in children and teens while improving health, concentration, confidence and self-esteem,” Dr. Sherwood said. Long term, Dr. Sherwood said, participating in sports is associated with less substance abuse and the ability to make wiser life choices.

“I think most people would agree that habits learned through youth sports participation resonate at some level into adulthood as they reap the benefits of early physical activity,” Dr. Sherwood said.

Popular sports include football, soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, lacrosse, swimming, track and field, volleyball and cheer.

However, there are risks involved in all sports, and participation in athletics will require time management and often a financial commitment.

Parents should carefully evaluate the pros and cons of participating in group sports before committing. Here are some things to consider:



Physical fitness: Consistent participation in sports can help youth become stronger and aerobically fit and less likely to develop chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Cognitive fitness: Sports can also improve brain function, help kids focus and sharpen their problem-solving skills.

Confidence: Kids who participate in team sports often display healthy self-confidence, leading to healthy interactions as they meet people, develop friendships and learn to interact socially and work together as part of a team.

Mental health: The exercise and physical activity required in sports participation can improve sleep patterns and help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

Emotional outlet: Participating in physical activity like sports can help kids work through and relieve negative thoughts and feelings.



Potential injury: There is a potential risk for injury in any sport, which can range from strains and sprains to broken bones and concussions or traumatic injuries in rare cases.

Mental health risk: Competition in sports will lead to some degree of performance pressure, and how a child responds to this pressure could lead to positive or negative effects. Coaches, team members and families play an integral role in promoting positive outcomes.

Time: There often is a significant time commitment from athletes and their families traveling, practicing and competing, which can reduce time devoted to studying or participation in other activities.

Costs: Equipment, participation fees, coaching and possible travel can be expensive.

Dr. Sherwood said participation in organized sports can have many benefits in the short term and into the future, but it is not without risk and requires monitoring and balance, much like any activity.



Schedule your appointment online

Piedmont App

Download the Piedmont Now app

  • Directions
  • Indoor Hospital Navigation
  • Find & Save Physicians
  • Online Scheduling

Download the app today!

Get the Piedmont Now on Google Play Get the Piedmont Now on iTunes App Store