Many argue, myself included (The Benefits of Competitive Athletic Sports Participation), that there are great benefits for those who participate in competitive sports as they grow up. Further, that these benefits not only center on healthy physical, mental/emotional, and social development, but go beyond the athletic field by creating successful attitudes and providing life lessons that carry over into many aspects of life.
According to The Boston Globe article, She Shoots, She Scores by Keith O'Brien, it appears that this belief now has some strong evidence to support it. Betsey Stevenson, assistant professor of business and public policy from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, has recently authored and published research that shows participation in "sports leads to students becoming more productive members of society."
Wow, that is a pretty big statement, right? She would certainly need to "prove" a relationship like that, something she did when comparing post- and pre- Title IX statistics with census data of educational fulfillment and employment when evaluating the impact of sports.
What Ms. Stevenson discovered was:
"... the states that required the greatest growth in female sports under Title IX -- for example, North Dakota and Nebraska -- saw the greatest growth in women's workforce participation in the 1980s and '90s. And the states that required the least growth in female sports -- for example, North Carolina and Mississippi -- saw the smallest gains in women's workforce participation. In other words, demographics, attitudes, and employment opportunities might vary from state to state, but the growth of the female workforce in a particular state almost always mirrored the sports opportunities afforded to girls in that state -- a correlation that played out again and again across the country."
The article goes on to state that her research found:
"Title IX was also responsible for one-fifth of the rise of female educational attainment for the generation that followed the new policy, as well as a 10 percent increase in women working full time, and a 12 percent spike in women in traditionally male-dominated occupations, such as accounting, law, and veterinary medicine."
What all of this means (and the rest of the article supports) is that the positive benefits of competitive sports participation go way beyond the standard "healthy" reasoning for playing them, that initiative and success in the workplace are impacted by said participation, and that their effect is much more global in nature, touching on more areas of one's life than what most realize.
This leads me to believe that we, as a society, should be finding better ways to enhance and broaden the athletic experience for students rather than making it the first thing cut when budgets get tight.
Just a thought.