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Sports and children’s growth

Sports are one of the most popular extra-curricular activities among children. According to the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), approximately 65% of children worldwide are involved in sports activities. In America, their involvement comes around 55% and in German about 70% of all children aged 6–14 engage in sports activities.

 

In India, most of the schools, teachers, and parents have not well understood the relevance of extra-curricular activities for children's development. Majority of the teachers and parents consider sports as a leisure time activity. Here and there only a few studies prove the relation between sports participation and children’s development. Few types of research conducted in the departments of pediatrics and psychology highlight the role of sports for children’s physical and mental health.


Meyer U, Romann M,  Zahner L, and others have found a positive effect of school-based physical activity for bone development during childhood. Few researchers argue that there is a link between sports and education. And quite a few researchers have proved a positive link between participation in high school sports and education.


Impact of sports participation can be analyzed mainly during preschool, primary school, and high school.  Because research shows the only modest impact of sports among university students.   Thus it can be concluded that sports participation early in life might help in to shape children's health, education, and behavior.


Summer camps and sports clubs are the key institutions which organize sports activities for students in India. But in countries like US, youth sports is heavily organized in schools. According to the German Olympic Association 76% boys and 59% girls aged 7 to 14 are engaged in sports in different sports clubs in German.


In India, schools play only a minor role in offering extra-curricular sports activities. Unfortunately, most of the schools even don’t have the facility of play grounds.  In few western countries like Germany, physical education in primary school is regulated by law and forms part of the mandatory curriculum. But in India, we can’t see such kind of initiatives or encouragement for sports.


Parents, who are more concerned with the physical and mental development of their children, are more likely to send their children to sports activities. Clubs serve as the site for the most popular sports. For instance, boys opt for cricket and girls prefer badminton.


Researchers say that the Body Mass Index (BMI) of children participating in a sports club and children not participating in a sports club are comparable. During the study, it found that children’s body fat is significantly lower among children participating in a sports club. Moreover, studies found that children enrolled in a sports club report less antisocial behavior. Overall it can be concluded that children participating in a sports club outperform children not participating in a sports club in all dimensions.


Sports club challenges teach children to take initiative, to plan, and achieve a valued goal. Sports club participation exposes children to different situations and teaches them cooperation and team spirit. It will make them better team players and capable of facing every hard situation in life.  Victory in competition may raise children's self-esteem and defeat may teach them how to deal with such a situation.


All studies indicate positive effects of participation in sports on children's school grades and behavior, in particular, the relation to their peers.


Participating in sports is the most popular leisure activity among boys. But girls prefer to spend time with friends or listening to music than taking part in sports.


Children living in a city might find it rather difficult to be physically active due to the lack of outdoor space but children living in the countryside might be more physically active.  


Physical activities play a major role in children's development. Thus countries should encourage children’s to participate in sports and should provide the necessary infrastructure. In western countries, it has become an important policy objective. Unfortunately in India, one can hardly observe encouragement for sports.

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