With the world’s best athletes taking the stage this month, it’s a good time to reflect on the power of sports. Watching the most renowned athletes compete at the highest level is sure to inspire children and adults alike to take up a new sport or work harder in their current sport.

Several studies, globally, have found a positive link between participation in sports and professional success. 1,2,3,4,5 When children take part in sports, they are doing more than just having fun and trying to win; the impact on their cognitive and social development is profound. Children’s grades, self esteem and health improve dramatically if they participate in sports starting from a young age when compared with their peers who don’t participate in sports.

The physical gain from sports is obvious: from off-season workouts to season games, cardiovascular and physical health are sure to improve. Stronger muscles and bones result from participating in sports and can improve long term health outcomes, such as decreasing the likelihood of developing osteoporosis 6. Maintaining a healthy body weight can further improve children’s self esteem. Children participating in sports from a young age through their young adult years increases the likelihood that they will continue to be active throughout adult, further prolonging the positive physical effects of sport activity.

Not only do sports teach children how to win and lose graciously, the importance of teamwork and time management; it also encourages children to take initiative and follow through on a goal.2 Social skills are improved through participation in sports and can be carried through into adulthood. By learning essential skills through play, it provides a solid foundation to build upon when these children enter the workforce. Social skills improve through sports as communication is a key aspect in several team based sports. For many children, their leadership skills are developed and strengthened through their sports teams, as well.

Although the physical benefits seem obvious, there are many other benefits for children who participate in sports. By allowing children to learn, develop and compete in a safe environment, skills learned are carried into adulthood for a successful life. The cognitive and mental health benefits of participating in athletics are equally significant as the physical benefits. Serotonin levels increase when we do physical activity; the same chemical commonly referred to as the “happy” chemical because it increases our feelings of contentment. Because of this relationship of increasing serotonin levels, exercise can help combat depression in both children and adults.8 Lastly, participating in sports can help children achieve better grades at school, as recent studies have found that sports have been correlated with better memory, and improved math and reading skills in children.

When a child learns to love a sport, they become motivated to become to improve their skills, work harder, and have fun while doing it. However, some children don’t have the luxury to play sports throughout their childhood. When children are diagnosed with cancer, their beloved sports often take the backseat.

Through the power of sports, On My Team16 can make their lives better, and eventually help get them back out onto the field or court, after their treatment is finished.

On My Team16 is a charity that uses the power of sports to change the lives of children battling cancer. While receiving cancer treatments, children often have to sit on the sidelines of their favorite sport, which can negatively impact a child’s outlook on life. OMT16 is working to make the lives of children battling cancer by fundraising, through athletes, to help bring back childhood. With Olympic, professional and amateur athletes on board, we are unleashing the power of sports to change the lives of children in pediatric oncology wards. As you cheer on your favorite athletes throughout the Olympics or their sport season, check out On My Team16’s roster to see who you can sponsor today to help children who are currently sidelined from their dream sport because of their battle with cancer.

If you’d like to find out more about sponsoring our athletes, head over to onmyteam16.com or feel free to email us at [email protected]!

1.Barron J., Ewing B., & Waddell G. (2000). The Effects of High School Athletic Particpiation on Education and Labour Market outcomes. Review of Economics and Statistics, 82 (3): 409–421.

2.Christina Felfe, Michael Lechner, and Andreas Steinmayr. (2016). Sports and Child Development.Public Library of Science

3.Eccles J., Barber B., Stone M., & Hunt J. (2003). Extracurricular activities and adolescent development. Journal of social issues, 59(4): 865–889.

4.Eide E., & Ronan N. (2001). Is participation in high school athletics an investment or a consumption good? Evidence from high school and beyond. Economics of Education Review, 20 (5): 431–442.

5.Pfeifer C., & Cornelissen T. (2010). The impact of participation in sports on educational attainment—New evidence from Germany. Economics of Education Review, 29 (1): 94–103.

Stevenson B. (2010). Beyond the Classroom: Using Title IX to Measure the Return to High School Sports. Review of Economics and Statistics, 92(2): 284–301.