PHILADELPHIA — Contradicting what most parents
might think, participation in team sports doesn’t necessarily result in teenage
boys adopting healthier behaviors. Instead, new research finds that it is
actually associated with increased fighting and drinking.
The study, which was presented today
at the American Public Health Association’s 137th Annual Meeting & Exposition in Philadelphia, surveyed a nationally
representative sample of more than 13,000 high schoolstudents across the United States to examine the association
between sports team participation and risky behaviors. Of the male respondents, 60.5
percent reported participation in team sports in the past year.
For these young
men, sports team participation was associated with increased levels of
self-reported fighting (OR 1.3), drinking (OR 1.4) and binge drinking (OR 1.4).
However, participation was also associated with decreased levels of depression
(OR 0.7) and smoking (OR 0.8). Of the female high school students,
48 percent reported participation on one or more sports team in the past year.
For this group, sports team participation was associated with decreased levels
of fighting (OR 0.9), depression (OR 0.7), smoking (OR 0.5), marijuana use (OR
0.7) and unhealthy weight loss practices (OR 0.9). There was no association
between sports team participation and drinking for female students.
“Sports team participation appears
to have both protective and risk-enhancing associations,” said Susan M. Connor,
PhD, lead researcher on the study. “These results indicate that healthy
/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
lifestyle benefits are not universal
and do not apply equally across genders.”