Youth Cultures

The formatting from MS Word is a little off especially after the graph. I cannot seem to fix it. Also my paragraphs are fully indented in word not here. Anyway, I tend to stray a little off topic time to time so I would appreciate feedback related to that, or anything else you want to add. Thank you. Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Youth Cultures

 

Pace University

 

Ronald Freyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sports and physical activity have a positive effect on academics, social, emotional and physical well-being of Middle School students. Research shows an academic performance increase for those students playing sports. My research is supported by interviews with middle school students who play girls Lacrosse as well as research articles.

Currently, the percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s; about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity (CDC,2017). The good news is that we see seeing an increase in sports from ages 6 through 12 with a participation rate of 40 percent (Rosenwald, 2016).  It is still not a large majority of adolescents. It has been known for some time that physical activity promotes a healthier lifestyle, both mentally and physically. Our young adolescents are experiencing so many changes in their young lives they need an outlet. This is where I believe sports comes into play.

Sports helps promote physical activity, teamwork, a can-do attitude and a sense of winning.  It is important to allow young adolescents to explore a variety of sports. Both of my daughter’s schools promote sports days, where they introduce a variety of sports to the students. This year, my oldest daughter who has played lacrosse for four years was selected for peer coaching the students on how to play the game. I was impressed with my daughter’s enthusiasm as well as the teacher recognizing the skillset of my daughter and allowing a peer coaching approach to introducing lacrosse. Lacrosse is a very technical sport requiring the player to cradle the stick, keeping the ball in the pocket while running, and looking for the next play or open players. Lacrosse requires precision passing, shooting and catching all while on the move. Now take this sport along with the awkwardness of skeletal and muscular changes in young adolescents and it sounds like a chaotic sports experience. It is typically the complete opposite. Our young adolescents are experiencing a sense of comradery, a physical outlet for adrenaline fired energy bursts and the most important factor to a middle school child, the socialization with their peers.

Many of the players on my lacrosse team have been playing since elementary school. I started early on pushing the comradery aspect of the sport. When we had a game scheduled on a weeknight, or the varsity girls had a home game the team wore their uniform to school that day. In this district, middle school begins in fifth grade. When I interviewed 5th and 6th graders, the fifth graders said seeing other players from the team put them at ease knowing they had older friends in middle school. They also had each other from the team to sit down with at lunch or talk to during recess. Right here is one realization of the social-emotional benefit of sports. You are never alone is the feeling they conveyed to me. That is a powerful message. Another experience is that being a coach in the community also provides a self-satisfaction because anytime my players see me they always greet me with “Hi coach” or a simple wave hello during a school function for parents. During an “invention convention” at the middle school where all students presented their inventions, I made it a point to stop at the booth for my players, especially if no one was around. This gave them a good feeling knowing someone they know was taking interest in their project.

Self-efficacy of adolescents can be connected with physical activity (PA). According to Valois, Umstattd, Zullig and Paxton (2008) participation in PA for teens has been associated with decreased anxiety and depression, improved academic performance, improved parental relationships, increased self-esteem, decreased anger, decreased psychological stress, lower levels of mental health problems, reduced drug use, satisfaction with mandatory gym classes, and increases in quality of life/perceived life satisfaction (pg. 2). Self-efficacy with PA is what Bandura presents as an integral component of behavior change in both self-efficacy theory and is a key construct of the social cognitive theory (Valois, et al., 2008, pg 2.).  So, if young adolescents are feeling better inside and out, engaging socially what other benefits can be obtained through sports?

Middle school children today are struggling with a school-life balance. These adolescents are suffering moderate to high levels of stress with schoolwork and homework being the most significant contributors (Abeles, 2017). If homework is a stressor for our children and sports can decrease stress, it appears that we have a strategy. According to Fox, Barr-Anderson, Neumark-Sztainer  and Wall (2010) adolescent students, in particular, sports team participation may be the major route by which they are physically active, and multiple studies suggest that participation on sports teams is also associated with better academic outcomes (pg. 2). The data in this study by Fox et. al, (2010) also concludes that performing more hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity was associated with a higher GPA for girls and boys in middle school and high school (pg 5.). Research articles are abundant on the link between academic performance and sports, to include physical activity. This is echoed in an article by Taras (2005) few teachers, administrators and parents would argue the assumption that physical activity is likely to help children perform better in school through increased blood flow to the brain, raised levels of norepinephrine, and endorphins all reduce stress, improve the mood and induce a calming effect (pg. 1). If facts exist that sports and physical activity support the increase in academics, then why is physical activity decreasing in schools, and most middle school students are not participating in sports teams? According to Williams (2016), the key factor in the decline in youth sports participation is the increased cost of participation. This contradicts an earlier article showing a participation rate of 40 percent among young adolescents. Digging in deeper to find the cause is revealed by Williams (2016):

The 2015 SFIA report indicated that 43 percent of parents reported an increase from 2014 in sport fees paid to schools and that since 2013, 67 percent of parents on average, spend more than $100 on their children’s sports fees, with 28.5 percent paying more than $200.Furthermore, inactivity rates across all populations rise as income levels decrease as 32.1 percent of those in families earning $25,000-$49,999 per year are inactive compared to 18.7 percent of those making $100,000 or more.

This information points to a socio-economic disadvantage with regards to sports participation. Typically, a school sports program is less costly than a private club. As school budget’s shrink and administrations look for areas to make cuts, afterschool sports become the low hanging fruit to target.

            I had an opportunity to survey players on my lacrosse team (10 players) that varied in grades 5th and 6th. Below are my findings:

Player

Have you ever skipped homework?

Do you go to HW Club?

1

yes

no

2

no

no

3

yes

no

4

no

no

5

yes

no

6

no

no

7

no

no

8

no

no

9

no

no

10

no

yes

 

You can see that only 30% surveyed have skipped homework, and only 10% participate in the afterschool program homework club. Homework club is facilitated afterschool by a teacher to work with the students in completing their homework. Students in this club also receive remedial help with the schoolwork they might be struggling with. Math help seems to be a popular subject that students want help with. Further research shows this is considered an afterschool program paid for through a federal grant. I think this is a wonderful way for students to receive extra help and complete their homework with the ability to ask for help. With many intact nuclear families finding a dual spousal income the time to sit down with their children to help complete homework becomes a challenge. In single parent households, the parent is typically working and has daycare or childcare. In this situation, if the care provider does not have the skills to assist with homework, the child may continue to struggle and stress about homework and projects.

For the students who fail to complete their homework assignments, the penalty in this middle school is much like detention. The students must purchase their lunch and report to the “SAT” room to complete the missed homework assignment(s) during their lunch break. These students then miss out on the socialization experience, as well as the physical activity of outside recess. Out of the ten students surveyed all ten claimed they receive too much homework.  

            If we know how beneficial sports and physical activity is for young adolescents, then why is not incorporated into more school curriculums? Why are sports considered the low-hanging fruit for budget cuts? The amount of research articles, news articles, and journals supporting the benefit are so vast I cannot believe that the school my players attend penalizes students by taking away the only time they have for physical activity. We try hard in my league to limit the school night games, but that is not always successful.   

 

References:

Abeles, V. (2017). Bring Healthy Homework to Your School. Race to Nowhere. Retrieved at: http://www.racetonowhere.com/bring-healthy-homework-your-school

 

Center For Disease Control (2017). Childhood Obesity Facts. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm

 

Fox, C., Barr-Anderson, D., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Wall, M. (2010) Physical Activity and Sports Team Participation: Associations With Academic Outcomes in Middle School and High School Students. Journal of School Health, Vol.80, No. 1, American School Health Association.

 

Rosenwald, M. (2016). Youth sports participation is up slightly, but many kids are still left behind. The Washington Post. Retrieved at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2016/05/17/youth-sports-participation-is-up-slightly-but-many-kids-are-still-left-behind/?utm_term=.dec75932c969

 

Taras, H. (2005) Physical Activity and Student Performance at School. Journal of School Health, Vol. 75, No. 6.

 

Valois, R., Umstattd, R., Zullig, K., Paxton, R. (2008). Physical activity behaviors and emotional self-efficacy: is there a relationship for adolescents? Journal of School Health, vol. 78, no. 6, 2008, p. 321+.

References Cont’d:

Williams, B. (2016) Youth Sports Participation Continues To Decline And Congress May Have A Solution. Forbes online. Retrieved at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakewilliams3012/2016/06/15/youth-sports-participation-continues-to-decline-and-congress-may-have-a-solution/#348901fa177d

 

    • Alanna Kardon-Alkalay
      Alanna Kardon-Alkalay

       Hi Ron.  I wholeheartedly agree with your belief that physical activity needs to be more of a priority in our public schools, and this does especially apply to middle schools.

      1. I really like your thesis in the first paragraph. It is clearly stated and relevant to the lives of middle school students.

      2. Your references are great.  Maybe you could think about integrating our course readings into your paper?

      3. The personal connections you make throughout the paper make your thesis extremely easy to relate to. You have excellent detail and description.  Are there any quotes you could use from the players or your daughters to further strengthen them?  I know you are passionate about coaching and are privy to many conversation between the girls.

      4. Your paper makes many important points about the general practice of the role of physical activity in our nations schools. Students would greatly benefit if policy makers and administrators followed you line of thinking.

      5. As I mentioned, I believe you have a clearly stated thesis. The reader knows exactly where you are going.

      "Sports and physical activity have a positive effect on academics, social, emotional and physical well-being of Middle School students. Research shows an academic performance increase for those students playing sports."

      Perhaps you could have your paper and thesis to follow the same order of positive effects. I placed them in bold above.  You go back and forth a bit throughout the paper.

      6.  The qualitative analysis evidenced by your chart is very interesting and offers good evidence for your thesis.

      May be you could strengthen the connection between the data on the chart and the benefits of physical activity? The implication is there. It might be helpful to make it more explicit to the reader.

      7. I am hoping that when you teach you can help facilitate some changes in the role physical education plays in our children's schools.  It is a cause worthy of your energy.  Placing more emphasis on this within the curriculum is great place to start. I don't know if you also have the academic curriculum in mind, as well, but it might be something to think about.

      You address such a vital topic and made it quite relatable. Thank you!

      Alanna

       

       

      • Adam Figueiredo
        Adam Figueiredo

        Ron, 

        As someone who loves sports and has always used them as an outlet for the stressors in life, I was very interested and captivated by your paper.  I think the use of a chart was a great touch to illustrate your findings, as well as its ability to affect the visual ambience of your paper.  I could also sense how personal the importance of sports are to you, as well as developing a sense of the joy you have for being a coach for your daughter and seeing the positive effects they've had in her life.

        My constructive feedback appears to align with Alanna's.  Your thesis is very clear and thorough; however, the format of your paper follows a different sequence. Without having to alter the full format of your paper, you could just rewrite your thesis as, "Sports and physical activity have positive effects on the social, emotional, physical, and academic well-being of Middle School students."  By doing so, your paper follows the format of hitting the social and emotional effects, then the physical effects, and then last but not least, the academic effects.  I also think it could be a nice touch to incorporate a few quotes from your daughter's lacrosse team about what makes sports so important to them and see if they hit upon anything such as comradery, getting active, diligence, persistence, and feeling more alert, and then using that to supplement the other findings.  For the conclusion, I was thinking you could tie it up by integrating your findings of why sports are meaningful for adolescent development.  For example, you could add something such as "based upon my findings, sports have shown to increase socialization, decrease stress, and increase academic success among young adolescents" And then raise the ironic and hypothetical question of why sports are attacked by schools when sports promote everything good for young adolescent development. 

        I hope this all makes sense! Thank you for an enjoyable read!

        -Adam

        • Ronald Freyer
          Ronald Freyer

          Alanna, and Adam thank you for the great feedback. I will make some adjustments. Adam, thank you for the idea on rewriting the thesis with the way you laid it out, it makes sense. Often time in my mind I feel I conveyed everything needed but once someone takes a fresh look they can help to tweak things. Thank you both.

          • Adam Figueiredo
            Adam Figueiredo

            My pleasure, glad I could provide some assistance!

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