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Team Sports May Be Detrimental

For decades, parents have encouraged their children to participate in team sports. Parents believed the experience of associating with peers toward a common goal would improve communication skills and help children prepare for the real world. Additional benefits would naturally include physical conditioning, dedication toward goals and adoption of healthier behaviors.

New research calls for a “time-out” of expectations as a study finds participation in team sports is actually associated with increased fighting and drinking in men, but not in women.

The study, which was presented at the American Public Health Association’s 137th Annual Meeting & Exposition in Philadelphia, surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 13,000 high school students across the United States to examine the association between sports team participation and risky behaviors.

Of the male respondents, 60.5 percent reported participation in team sports in the past year. For these young men, sports team participation was associated with increased levels of self-reported fighting, drinking and binge drinking.

However, participation was also associated with decreased levels of depression and smoking.

Of the female high school students, 48 percent reported participation on one or more sports team in the past year. For this group, sports team participation was associated with decreased levels of fighting, depression, smoking, marijuana use and unhealthy weight loss practices.

There was no association between sports team participation and drinking for female students.

“Sports team participation appears to have both protective and risk-enhancing associations,” said Susan M. Connor, PhD, lead researcher on the study.

“These results indicate that healthy lifestyle benefits are not universal and do not apply equally across genders.”

Source: American Public Health Association (APHA)

Team Sports May Be Detrimental

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Team Sports May Be Detrimental. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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