Introduction

In today’s world, sports form an integral part of the society’s culture. Participating in sports is an important aspect of child development that has many benefits. Sports improve the health status of participants and foster the development of fundamental skills that are important in facing challenges in life (Ahmadi, 2010, p.43). Other benefits of sports include fostering social co-existence and peace, encouraging community development, financial gains and foster international unity.

Sports have made significant contributions in enhancing the implementation of certain policies that are important and that affect the welfare of the society. Healthy human development is a requisite for sustained societal development. Without a healthy population, it is impossible to achieve the goals and objectives that stimulate growth and development.

Therefore, it is necessary to maintain good health in individuals in order to enable them to use their potential to stimulate growth and personal development (Ahmadi, 2010, p.45). Sport is an important tool that has the ability to motivate and empower individuals to achieve their health, economic and social goals.

Sports are important in the society because they improve the overall quality life, foster social inclusion and help to eradicate anti-social behaviors in young people. In addition, they improve the health status of individuals and their self-esteem and confidence (Ahmadi, 2010, p.49).

Health benefits of sports

Research has shown that physical activity contributes in improving the health of individuals who participate in sport activities. Sports help to improve cardiovascular fitness, hence vital in management of body weight. Sports serve several functions that make them beneficial and important to individuals and the society.

Sports activities help reduce body fat and build muscles, slow down the aging process, improve body balance and coordination, and minimize risks of injury (Sharkey and Gaskil, 2007, p.27). Sport is an effective tool that can be used to pull resources together to fight diseases. Research by the World Health Organization has shown that regular physical activity affords people numerous physical, social, economic and mental health benefits.

Sport activities augment strategies that improve diet and counter the widespread use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco (Sharkey and Gaskil, 2007, p.29). These drugs have adverse effects on the health of users.

People experience the benefits of sport in two main ways. First, through direct participation and secondly, through indirect participation as spectators. Sport initiatives that are designed to improve health are beneficial and have an impact at both levels. People who directly participate in sport activities benefit more that those who participate indirectly.

Sports play a vital role in averting the adverse effects of chronic diseases on the society (Sharkey and Gaskil, 2007, p.31). Research has revealed that the effect of chronic diseases is augmented by physical inactivity and poor eating habits. Participation in sports is one of the ways through which people become active. It is an effective method of staying active because it is enjoyable and individuals benefit greatly.

Apart from improving the physical fitness of individuals, sports help to reduce the impact of risk factors that expose individuals to illnesses (Sharkey and Gaskil, 2007, p.36). Sports help reduce potential risks of high blood pressure, stress, high cholesterol levels in the body and use of drugs and other harmful substances. In general, participating in sports helps improve general body fitness, helps individuals relax, helps in management of body weight, and improves body coordination and posture (Sharkey and Gaskil, 2007, p.41).

Research has shown that sport activities enhance healthy growth and development in children and helps strengthen the heart. A strong, healthy heart reduces the risk of individuals succumbing to heart failure or stroke. In today’s society, the effects of inactivity are evident from the large number of children who are succumbing to obesity (Sharkey and Gaskil, 2007, p.42). Children spend a lot of time watching television, playing video games and surfing the internet.

This encourages inactive lifestyles that have adverse health consequences. Health practitioners are very concerned and troubled by this modern trend because obese children grow into obese adults. Obese adults are at an increased risk of diabetes, heart diseases and many other chronic diseases that affect people with inadequate immunity against diseases (Sharkey and Gaskil, 2007, p.43).

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) maintains that engaging in sport activities helps develop active lifestyles that help reduce risks of disease infection. A report by USDHHS in association with the European Heart Network revealed that active individuals are at low risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer and hemorrhagic strokes.

Social benefits of sports

Sports provide individuals with opportunities to integrate into the society and the surroundings in the community. In children, sports provide an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and improve social skills (Woods, 2011, p.34). Children are thus able to develop self-esteem, confidence and sense of belonging through social interactions.

In addition, sports promote healthy growth and development in children because they help them develop relationships that are vital in their development process. Through participation in sports, children acquire important skills of teamwork and leadership that are vital in their development and success in life (Woods, 2011, p.38). Sports inculcate values such as hard work, perseverance and discipline.

The benefits of participating in sports go beyond the individual level into the community level. Young people interact extensively with other people in their community through participating in sport activities. This not only improves the social disposition of individuals, but also improves the socioeconomic status of the community (Woods, 2011, p.41). Therefore, the participation of young people in sports has both individual and communal benefits.

Drug use and abuse is a problem that has affected young people for many years. It is a common occurrence among young people in the modern society. Participation in sport activities helps reduce involvement of young people in anti-social behaviors such as drug use and violence (Woods, 2011, p.42). Young people engage in unethical behaviors because of peer pressure and idleness.

Sports help eradicate idleness and involvement in unethical activities because it gives young people a chance to be active and constructive. In addition, it gives them an opportunity to learn important values such as discipline and responsibility that help reduce unethical behaviors (Holt, 2008, p.41).

Sports contribute significantly in helping people learn how to interact effectively in social situations. They foster social inclusion by bringing people together and helping them establish strong and effective social networks that cultivate a strong sense of belonging (Delaney and Madigan, 2009, p.62). The quality of social relationships determines the health status of individuals to a certain degree. Therefore, it is important for people to participate in sports because physical activity encourages healthy lifestyles.

Sports have been used in many communities to eradicate social stigma and segregation that is experienced by minority groups (Holt, 2008, p.46). For example, in most societies, people with disabilities are marginalized because of their physical conditions. Through sports, other community members are able to accept these individuals.

They cone to earn that the disability of these people does not translate to inability because they can engage in physical activities too (Delaney and Madigan, 2009, p.66). Sports create an environment that contributes significantly in eradication of negative perceptions and attitudes against certain races, ethnicities or groups of people. Sports enable people to focus on common experiences and traits, and help them ignore the differences that exist between them (Coakley, 2004, p.35).

This is an important aspect of helping people in minority groups improve their sense of belonging and self-esteem. Sports programs that involve participation of people from all social classes foster and develop the concept of belonging. By participating in common sport activities, people break down the socioeconomic barriers that exist among them.

Sports serve as an effective tool for communication and social mobilization (Delaney and Madigan, 2009, p.72). The great attraction of sports entertainment has made it an influential tool for communication.

Large organizations and companies use professional athletes to convince young people to change their lifestyles in order for them to experience the benefits of being active (Coakley, 2004, p.41). In addition, not-for-profit organizations use professional athletes and sport organizations to gather resources to sponsor health programs such as obesity awareness campaigns.

In local communities, sport gatherings give health care practitioners opportunities to educate people on critical health matters. People receive information on the importance of vaccination and the different ways to control and prevent diseases in their community (Coakley, 2004, p.44).

Economic benefits of sports

Sports have numerous economic benefits both to individuals and to the government. Professional athletes earn a living from sports and are able to support their families. Sports such as basketball, football, tennis and athletics are very lucrative and form a core part of the economy. Sports contribute to the economy significantly. First, they create jobs for people who have interest in the physical education field (Theokas, 2009, p.84). Jobs in the sports sector include coaching, medical therapy, team doctors and instructors.

Secondly, when countries host sport functions such as the World Cup or the Olympics, they benefit financially. These events generate income and market the host country internationally (Theokas, 2009, p.84). Thirdly, the government benefits from the taxes paid by professional athletes. Since they earn a lot of money, they pay high taxes, which are used to develop the economy.

The cost of treating illness that are caused by inactivity is very high. For example, obesity predisposes people to stroke, diabetes and heart failure, which are very expensive to manage. However, by being active through participation in sports, these conditions and illnesses are avoidable.

Sports are effective in reducing these costs because they act as a health promotion tool that helps people live healthy lifestyles (Theokas, 2009, p.85). Consumer expenditure on sport-related merchandise such as clothing and footwear, satellite TV subscriptions, participation in sport clubs through subscriptions and purchase of sport equipment generate income for individuals and organizations.

Education benefits of sports

Sports have several benefits that lead to improved academic performance. Sports improve performance in school because individuals have high energy levels, improved cognitive functioning and positive values such as discipline and hard work.

In addition, people who engage in sports have high self-esteem and confidence, which enable them handle academic work confidently (Shulman and Bowen, 2011, p.92). A research study conducted by Hastie (1998) revealed that students who participate in sports are more skilled and possess strong interpersonal behaviors.

These attributes arise from exposure to challenging environments that encourage responsibility and accountability (Hastie, 1998, p.24). In addition, the study found out that students who participate in sports make better and more rational decisions than students who do not participate in sports. Sports give students a chance to make personal decisions without the influence or interference of instructors. This develops the values of accountability and responsibility.

Through sports, students are able to develop organizational skills that are useful both in the field and in the classroom (Shulman and Bowen, 2011, p.95). Sports inculcate skills such as concentration, hard work, planning and creativity. High self-esteem and confidence is one of the educational benefits of participating in sports.

Self-esteem is defined as the quality of a person’s self worth and personal appraisal that is governed and determined by how they view themselves. Self-esteem is an important factor in education that motivates young people to work hard by believing in their ability and potential.

Sports help improve self-esteem and confidence because they give individuals opportunities to acquire vital life skills that improve the quality of their lives. In addition, sports help young people to value teamwork (Hastie, 1998, p.26). Improved self-esteem helps students change their way of thinking and as such, face challenges and difficulties confidently.

Negative effects of sports

Despite their numerous benefits, sports have negative effects too. Negative effects of sports include injuries and poor coaching (France, 2008, p.84). In all sport activities, measures are put in place to avoid injuries. However, risks involved in sports are many and even with safety measures in place, injuries happen. In sports that involve physical contact between players such as football, basketball and rugby, injuries are inevitable.

Types of injuries include groin strain, hamstring strain, nose injuries, ankle sprain, concussion and dental damage (France, 2008, p.86). Sports injuries have adverse effects on the athlete, the athlete’s family and the spectators. Some injuries such as concussions and dental damage can cause severe and long-lasting damage to the life of the athlete.

Poor coaching can have adverse effects on the behavior, attitudes and motivation of young people. Some coaches and instructors are aggressive, abusive and argumentative. A coach who possesses these qualities instills them in players who express them in their behaviors (France, 2008, p.86).

They become rude and aggressive because when treated with aggression or rudeness by their coach, they respond in a similar manner. These behaviors affect other areas of life such as social interaction and education. Young people become impatient and rude, and it becomes hard for them to establish and maintain relationship.

Conclusion

In today’s world, sports form an integral part of the society’s culture. Participating in sports is an important aspect of child development and has many benefits. Sports improve the health status of participants and foster the development of fundamental skills that are important in facing different challenges in life. Other benefits of sports include fostering social co-existence and peace, encouraging community development, financial gains and fostering international unity.

Sports activities help reduce body fat and help build body mass, slow down the aging process, improve body balance and coordination, and minimize risks of injury. Sport is an effective tool that can be used to pull resources together to fight diseases. Research by the World Health Organization has shown that regular physical activity affords people numerous physical, social, economic and mental health benefits.

The benefits of participating in sports go beyond the individual level into the community domain. Young people interact extensively with other people in their community through participating in sports activities. This not only improves the social disposition of individuals, but also the socioeconomic status of the community.

Sports encourage students to develop organizational skills that are useful both in the field and in the classroom. Sports inculcate skills such as concentration, hard work, planning and creativity. Development of high self-esteem and confidence is one of the social benefits of participating in sports. Despite the numerous benefits, sports have negative effects too. Negative effects of sports include injuries and poor coaching.

In all sports activities, measures are put in place to avoid injuries. However, risks involved in sports are many and even with safety measures put in place injuries happen. Poor coaching can have adverse effects on the behavior, attitudes and motivation of young people. Some coaches and instructors are aggressive, abusive or argumentative.

A coach with these qualities instills them in players and they express these traits in their behaviors. Sports are important in the society because they improve the overall quality life, foster social inclusion and help to eradicate anti-social behaviors in young people. In addition, they improve the health status of individuals thus promoting their well-being.

References

Ahmadi, H. (2010). Complementary Effects of Sport on Health. New York: Strategic Book Publishing.

Coakley, J. (2004). Sport in Society: Issues and Controversies. New York: McGraw Hill.

Delaney, T., and Madigan, T. (2009). The Sociology of Sports: An Introduction. New York: McFarland.

France, R. (2008). Introduction to Physical Education and Sport Science. New York: Cengage Learning.

Hastie, P. (1998). Applied Benefits of the Sport Education Model. Journal of Physical

Education, Recreation & Dance, 64(9), 24-26.

Holt, N. (2008). Positive Youth Development through Sport. New York, NY: Routledge.

Sharkey, B., and Gaskil, S. 92007). Fitness and Health. London: Human Kinetics.

Shulman, J., and Bowen, W. (2011). The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Theokas, C. (2009). Youth Sport Participation: A View of the Issues. Developmental Psychology, 45(2), 303-306.

Woods, R. (2011). Social Issues in Sport. New York: Human Kinetics.