High School Sports Benefits Essay Contest

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Many young athletes today are finding that club sports are having a greater impact in their college recruitment process than high school sports. Many major sports, from Baseball to Soccer, have significant club participation that including significant travel (and expense) for the "better" athletes to play against other "better" athletes, but do not give up the opportunity to play for your high school.

Here are 5 major benefits of playing high school sports:

1.     Representing a community:
  when you play for your high school you are representing the community in which you live. You will participate against other communities and enjoy the sporting rivalries that have developed over numerous generations. This is just like college – playing other colleges that have traditional rivalries and representing your college, and the community in which it is part, is a great honor.

2.     Recognition for your achievements: Local newspapers thrive on sport coverage of their local high schools and your achievements will not go unnoticed. This is just like college – local papers love to cover the sporting events of the local colleges and you will be recognized for your individual and team successes.

3.     Understanding the sporting hierarchy:
As a freshman you have certain duties, as do the sophomores, juniors and seniors. These duties change when you get older - from collecting equipment to leading the program. This is just like college – you will have certain duties and expectations as a freshman and these duties and expectations will change as you mature to lead your program.

4.     Development of leadership roles: In high school sports players tend to look towards the older and more experienced athletes for guidance and leadership. As you stay with the program you will assume these roles and duties and you will learn how best to lead. You will also develop an understanding of which leadership qualities and styles best suit you. This is just like college – your leadership skills will be expected to develop as you mature through the program and you will have older, more experienced, teammates to look up to when you are an underclassman.

5.     The opportunity to work with different coaches:
Playing for different coaches prior to participating in college will allow you to know how to adapt to various coaching styles and how best you can succeed with these different styles. Although this is not the same as college, playing for different coaches will prepare you to know how best to work within different coaching styles and philosophies and still get the best out of your game.

Being exposed to club and high school sports will help you develop yourself as an athlete and leader and expose you to various roles that will allow you to succeed further in college.  Be aware of burnout and find time to get rest but enjoy the experience of being a youth athlete in all environments.

Kevin Kniffin teaches leadership and management in sports at Cornell University as part of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. He is on Twitter.

Ask a group of healthy college students in their 20s if they know what they had for lunch three days ago and you’re not likely to see many hands go up. But ask them for memories of competitive sports they played when they were younger and suddenly you’ll hear stories about when they pitched for their school baseball or softball team. Sports offer formative and life-long lessons that stick with people who play.

Research shows that people who play high school sports get better jobs, with better pay. Benefits that last a lifetime.

Those lessons presumably help to account for the findings that people who played for a varsity high school team tend to earn relatively higher salaries later in life. Research to which I contributed, complementing previous studies, showed that people who played high school sports tend to get better jobs, with better pay, and that those benefits last a lifetime.

Hiring managers expect former student-athletes (compared with people who participated in other popular extracurriculars) to have more self-confidence, self-respect and leadership; actual measures of behavior in a sample of people who had graduated from high school more than five decades earlier showed those expectations proved accurate.

We also found that former student-athletes tend to donate time and money more frequently than people who weren’t part of teams.

In other words, there are clear and robust individual and societal benefits that appear to be generated through the current system of school support for participation in competitive youth athletics.

With respect to whether youth athletics should be part of educational institutions, it’s certainly true that there’s no necessary relationship between the two; but, what would happen if schools were to drop all of their interscholastic sports programs?

Any policymakers who took such action would effectively be privatizing – and, in turn, limiting – an important set of opportunities that schools presently provide in a significantly more democratic and open fashion than likely alternatives would. Beyond raising a basic barrier for anyone to gain the kinds of experiences that appear to be rewarded in the workplace, the privatization of competitive youth sports would also create the largest barriers – and cause the greatest long-term losses – for those whose families are not able to bear the costs of participation outside of the public school system.


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Topics: Education, Sports, high school

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