Playing sports is a great way to build your child’s confidence and dedication but there are some drawbacks. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of sports for middle schoolers and to learn how to support your student athlete.

Athletics have always been an essential component of a liberal education, but recently sports in school have come under attack. If, because of that, athletics are cut or eliminated from schools, the quality of education would likely be harmed.The evidence suggests students benefit from schools that offer a variety of enriching activities, including sports. Singling out sports for elimination while fighting to preserve other elements of a liberal education betrays an elitist bias that reveals more about the opponents of athletics than it says about the research on what helps students.

A survey conducted by the Minnesota State High School League in 2007 and reported by the NFHS found that the average GPA of a high school athlete was 2.84, while a student who was not involved in athletics had an average GPA of 2.68. The survey also showed that student athletes missed less school than their non-athlete counterparts, with a total of 7.4 days missed and 8.8 days missed, respectively.
Another study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise in August, 2007 found that students who were active in sports like soccer, football and even skateboarding performed 10 percent better in core subjects like math, science, social studies and language arts. Because sports offer equal opportunity to all students at the high school level, these academic benefits extend to all area of the student population, including students that might be traditionally underserved.
How Can Parents Support Students in Sports?Make academics the priority. Sports are great for middle schoolers but it’s your job as a parent to make sure that they don’t take priority over your child’s academics. Make sure your child finishes all their homework and that he maintains good grades while participating in sports.
  1. Volunteer for the team. Many sports teams rely on parents to volunteer – this is a great way to support your student. You may be needed to bring snacks to the game, to organize fundraisers, or to simply show up at the game to provide moral support.
  2. Let the coach do his job. In middle school, sports are more about fun and learning the game than they are about winning. At least this is how it should be. As a parent, it can be tempting to step in or complain about the coach but it’s better for your child if you let the coach do his job. It’s great to offer your help, but don’t try to do his job for him.
  3. Give your child room to grow. In addition to showing up at games and volunteering for the team, you should give your child room to grow and develop his skills. Look for opportunities to build your child’s skills such as a summer camp or a weekend event designed for kids.
  4. Keep it positive. As a parent, you want to see your child succeed but you must walk the line between being supportive and being overbearing. You should show up and cheer for your child at the game, but don’t forget that your child should be having fun – push your child to be his best, but don’t set unrealistic expectations.
  5. Focus on character building. There are many lessons to be learned through sports such as trying your best in all things, being a good sport, and practicing to make improvements. Support your child in these things and he’ll become a better athlete and a better person.

 

Sports are not right for every middle school student, but they are definitely worth considering. Participating in a sport can help your child develop stronger friendships while also learning valuable life skills such as leadership and dedication. If your child chooses to engage in sports, do what you can as a parent to support him or her and to help them get as much out of it as they can.