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.