Benefits of youth athletics are far reaching
How exciting it was to watch the performances of the 12 Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Olympians in Sochi and how proud we are of the way our Olympians represented themselves and our community on the world stage. This week, we welcome some of our Olympians home at a public event at the Fireside Lounge in the Four Seasons from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday. There is no admission fee. Refreshments and food are available at a modest cost.
While the Olympics thrill us, the efforts of all our kids beginning with 6-year-old future stars inspire us. Only a very few will become Olympians and fewer still will join the likes of Lindsey, Mikaela, Kaitlyn and Ayumu as medalists. What then, is the value of sport for kids?
Annually, a survey of our membership reveals that having fun and developing a lifelong passion for snowsports rank at the top of priorities. Learning skills that develop character, courage and commitment are nearly equal in being listed as the most important outcome of participation.
Sports provide an opportunity to learn some of life’s most important lessons. For young children, their dreams of becoming Olympians are one of their first opportunities to be aspirational; to set goals, work towards them, learn that failure is an important element on the road to success, all while developing and exposing their character. In our hopes to raise children who are healthy, full of life, motivated and resilient, sports can create the platform for successful relationships, careers and lives.
BENEFITS OF BEING ACTIVE
As found on the Aspen Institute’s Project Play website, physical activity benefits children in many ways, including helping build healthy bones, joints and muscles, helping to control weight and eliminate or delay the onset of high blood pressure. A 2004 study determined that childhood sports participation is a significant predictor of early adulthood physical activity. Among 24 year olds, those who played youth sport were eight times more likely than the general population to be active.
Further, the study finds that sports contribute to improved academic achievement. Those who are athletes through their high school years are more likely to attend college and earn degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The Women’s Sports Foundation reports that female high school athletes are less likely as compared to their non-athlete peers to use drugs or suffer from depression.
Focusing on the process both enhances athletic performance and confers the many benefits of pursuing a discipline such as snowboard, freeskiing, freestyle or Nordic and alpine racing. As parents, we are able to see our young athletes develop responsibility, time management skills, motivation, goal setting and perseverance, preparing them for college and independence. For every one of these young athletes, these are the true rewards of the time and energy spent in pursuit of their dreams.