Teen Boys Drink, Fight More, Girls Less, When Playing Sports

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Monday, November 9, 2009

Teen Boys Drink, Fight More, Girls Less, When Playing Sports

When young people are involved in team sports there are certainly many benefits. Skills are taught and honed, physical fitness is improved, social skills are exercised, teamwork, leadership and discipline are learned. And, the list goes on.

There are injury risks involved with playing sports, but that's about as far as I've gone when thinking about any negative aspects of sport involvement.

Until now.

An interesting new study has revealed that when boys are involved in team sports, they are more likely to engage in at-risk behaviors. The study was gender specific, and girls in fact are less likely to engage in at-risk behaviors when they are involved in sports.

I certainly won't make the leap that because of one study like this, parents should pull their male kids from involvement in sports. But, it is worthwhile to note the findings of the study and give a bit more thought these potential negative outcomes.

Playing team sports increases teenage boys' likelihood to binge drink and fight, while reducing unhealthy behavior in girls, a new study by the Injury Prevention Center at University Hospitals' Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland found.

Teen girls who played team sports said they fought less, were depressed less often and didn't smoke as much. Male athletes who played team sports also reported some benefits, such as less depression and smoking, the organization said in a news release.

The study surveyed 13,000 U.S. high school students to evaluate links between team sports and risky behavior.

The boys playing team sports reported binge-drinking rates 40 percent higher and fighting 30 percent more often than nonathletes. The athlete boys also showed 30 percent lower rates of depression and 20 percent less smoking.

The girls showed no link to drinking in the study, the research reported. The athletic girls showed 10 percent lower rates of fighting, 30 percent less depression, 50 percent less smoking and 10 percent less unhealthy weight loss habits compared with nonathlete girls, the study found.

Source: Bloomberg.com