Which high school sport best fits your kid?
By Alex Flanagan
Before you sign your child up to play a sport, would you be interested in knowing which sport could influence whether or not your child graduates from college? Or which sport has the highest rate of athletes who binge drink or use marijuana? Did you know that kids who play lacrosse or wrestle are more likely to cut class than kids who play basketball or tennis?
If you are not sure which high school sport is the best for your child, now there is a cool resource to help you answer that question.
The Aspen Institute Sports & Society program recently launched a tool to guide parents and athletes on choosing which sport will most benefit their child. It’s called the Healthy Sport Index and it’s the first of its kind. The non-profit organization analyzed the relative benefits and risks of playing the most popular high school sports for boys and girls. Using data, expert analysis and medical experts, the Healthy Sport Index evaluates safety, physical activity and the psychosocial benefits of 10 different sports.
Parents customize three areas of what matters most to them to find out which sport best matches their priorities. You can see which sports rank highest in safety; which are the best for exercise; or which activities provide the most psychological benefits.
What we at ILTWYP really love about this tool is all the information behind the index. Click on any sport and there is a ton to learn about it. The index helps parents compare different sports, find complementary sports to your child’s primary sport and provides links to meaningful articles focused on learning more about best practices.
Some the of key findings are pretty interesting too. A few things the study found …
- Boy swimmers spend 10 months on their sport compared to the 6 or 7 months invested by track and field athletes.
- Basketball is the most complementary sport to play in addition to another primary sport.
- Youth in contact sports showed the riskiest off-field behavior.
- Football rated 2ndoverall among the 10 boys’ sports that were studied for psychological benefits, but ranked lower in physical activity and safety.
The index isn’t intended to be used to tell parents which sports their kids should play, but instead to help them make informed decisions and find the sports that best meet their needs and the needs of their young athletes.
Alex Flanagan co-founded I love to watch you play in 2015. She was flying home from an NFL work assignment when a learning specialist, who was sitting next to her, shared 5 reasons she shouldn’t feel guilty missing her son’s game. She shared their conversation on her own website alexflanagan.com and the response was so overwhelming it inspired her to create ILTWYP to help parents like herself navigate youth sports.