SPORT PARTICIP AND
nder the current social environment with child and youth obesity at epidemic proportions and with the failing grade Canada is receiving on the physical activity levels of our children, we should also be aware of how this is impacting our developing generations in other areas of their life. We should be looking into other areas where participation in sport should be promoted. According to the Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth 2014, in Canada, only 7% of kids are meeting guidelines for physical activity levels at ages 5-11, and only 4% are meeting guidelines at ages 12-17 1. When we look at our youth population, schools are one of the largest stakeholders in their appropriate development. They are also one of the most important targets when it comes to providing opportunities to integrate physical activity and sport into learning. However, the debate continues to rage on between the value of sport participation in relation to academic progress and achievement.
Taking a look at the research around middle and high school aged youth, we can see that it is still divided between the studies that say sport has no effect on academics and those that say that sport has a positive effect. What should be noted as the most encouraging fact is that there is no research that suggests that there is a negative relationship between sport participation and academics. So what are we hearing? What is said about sport participation having a negative impact on academics? • Sport takes away from study time and learning time. 9 • Students put more value on sport than academics. Peer/social standing 16
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is measured on sport success not academic success. • Sport is more “fun” so students put more time and energy into it than their studies. 7 • Parents express concern that if their children participate too much in sport it may negatively affect their academic level. 8 • Students who participate in sport show better academic progress than those who do not. However, those that participate in a single sport have better academic outcomes than those that participate in multiple sports in the school context. 8,12
• There is an argument that the pressure to achieve academically in order to be able to play sports may skew the benefits of sport participation for academic progress. Students may pursue negative behaviours in order to maintain their academic status and in turn their sport eligibility. • Competition to make sport teams is often fierce. Students who do not make the teams have less motivation in this context to pursue academic achievement in relation to sport. If a school holds its sport team in value over academics then a cycle has occurred that builds those that participate and negatively affects those that don’t. 3,5