News on Wellness

Fun Ranked Top Factor In Keeping Kids Attracted To Sport

Results of a recent study run by scientists from Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University debunk the common belief that winning is all important when it comes to the key determinants that make organized sports fun for kids.

Amanda J. Visek, PhD, associate professor of exercise science at Milken Institute SPH and her team used a method called concept mapping in order to map “fun” in youth sport. First, 142 soccer players, 37 coaches and 57 parents were asked to identify all of the things that, in their opinion, make playing sports fun for kids.

Based on the answers, they selected 81 specific determinants of fun and asked the participants to sort them using their own criteria and finally to rate the determinants on their importance, frequency and feasibility.

There were 11 fundamental fun factors identified that include Being a good sport, Trying hard, Positive coaching, Learning and improving, Game time support, Games, Practices, Team friendships, Mental bonuses, Team rituals, and Swag. The first three factors were called the “youth sport ethos.” Swag, such as having cool jerseys or the latest sports gear, or winning medals was rated as the least important determinant of fun.

The results come amidst alarming data on obesity rates among children: about 70% of kids have been reported to drop out of organized sports by the time they reach middle school.

“Keeping kids involved in sports in childhood and throughout their adolescence would be a significant public health breakthrough. The FUN MAPS can help do that. As a public health practice, sport participation can be a major source of physical activity and as such offers the well documented benefits of regular exercise. This is particularly important for children and adolescents,” says Visek. “Moreover, the longer we can keep them participating in sport, the greater likelihood we have of helping them establish a habit of regular physical activity for the rest of their lives.”

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