Are Jocks Jerks?

Kate Dailey of Newsweek's The Human Condition blog wrote a very interesting post about the role of sports in child development. Is sports beneficial for kids or does it turn jocks into jerks?

The answer - painfully obvious to those who still remember their high school days - came by way of a new psychology study by Richard Lerner et al:

Depending on one’s high-school experience, there are two distinct philosophies about the role sports plays in a child’s development. There’s the idea that youth sports teaches kids discipline and respect, keeps them off the street, and helps them mature into adults: it’s sports that turned athletically gifted but insecure Daniel Larusso into The Karate Kid.

But just as pervasive is the opinion that jocks are jerks, and kids who play sports are mean bullies who will do anything to win, who need to dominate their opponents and who carry that aggressiveness streak off the field. Kids who play sports, this line of thinking goes, are more like Johnny Lawrence, star athlete (and big-time bully) from the Cobra-Kai dojo.

A recent study in the journal Developmental Psychology suggest that jocks really are jerks—if they focus exclusively on sports at the expense of other more-well rounded programs. But kids who both play sports and are exposed to youth-development program like scouting or 4-H show the most markers of personal growth and maturity.

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A further comment to PatrickM: When you call the victims of bullying liars, you are rubbing salt into their wounds. Don't deny the reality of other people's experiences.
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I can't say I agree with this study at all. For all intents and purposes, I was a "jock". I was obsessed with my sport during high school and went on to win the state championship before graduating. I'm also a huge geek. I don't think that makes me some sort of anomaly. I think the whole "jock/prep" vs "dorks/dweebs" deal is mostly a fabrication. Just as false as the idea of the American college experience (Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, etc) It's simply an attempt to "explain" a mostly inapplicable idea of adolescent social Darwinism where those with athletic ability are somehow inherently against anything different.
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Team sports deliberately fosters a team mentality and a competitive mentality. This can lead to groups of bullies in ways that the chess club never could.
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