The Compelling Relationship between Youth Sports and Success as an Adult
By Joe Ulm
Success, however we define it, is something we all want for our kids. We encourage our kids to participate in sports for lots of reasons, but one of those reasons is because we see a relationship between youth sports and how it helps our kids’ social, psychological, and physical development. But does participation in youth sports really relate to success? Or is it just some nostalgic feeling we have based on our own past experiences?
Over the past decade or so, some significant studies have been performed that provide good, reliable data on that relationship. As expected, there IS a relationship between participation in youth sports and success as an adult, and although the relationship isn’t absolute, the correlation is compelling. Here are some examples:
- 95% of Fortune 500 executives participated in high school athletics.
- 96% of dropouts in 14 school districts in seven regions of the nation were not participating in an athletic program.
A 2018 Whitehouse Study concludes:
“A growing literature evaluates the impact of various childhood interventions on children’s long-term outcomes. Examples include early education programs, increased access to safety net programs, and moves from public housing to higher opportunity neighborhoods (Heckman et al. 2010; Hoynes and Schanzenbach 2018; Chetty et al. 2016). These interventions, in some cases, are shown to improve the long-term health and economic and social wellbeing of children upon reaching adulthood.”
This study from Cornell University shows a correlation between youth sports and career success concluding:
- “Past participation in competitive team sports marks you as a winner in the competition for better jobs.”
Indeed, there are still a bevy of challenges in youth sports, but too often we only hear about the challenges. As real as those challenges may be, the benefits youth sports provides our kids is significant.
Even better is that we get the opportunity to address those challenges and build something that helps them achieve their own success. And from what the data shows they probably will. We just need to build it right. Together. United.