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Students who play sports face a big potential upside if they win a scholarship or professional stardom, but there are financial and physical costs to consider as well.
Two new unrelated studies show the toll extracurricular athletics can take on both students’ bodies and families’ bank accounts. The research also shows that once in a while, there can be a silver lining to the sacrifices.
In one study, college athletes who specialized in their sport before age 14 were more likely to have a history of injuries, but they were also more likely to receive a scholarship for their sport.
In one study, college athletes who specialized in their sport before age 14 were more likely to have a history of injuries, but they were also more likely to be recruited and receive a scholarship for their sport, researchers at University of California at Los Angeles said.
Over 85% of the athletes focusing on one game before 14 reported a history of injuries, compared to the 74% of athletes who focused on their preferred sport later. Almost 93% of the “early specializers” were recruited, compared to the 83% who zeroed in on their game later.
The researchers used responses from about 200 NCAA Division 1 college athletes, though their sports were unspecified. The findings were released at an American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine event over the weekend.
Sports are a good way to stay healthy “and possibly even receive a college scholarship”, said Dr. Brian Cash, of UCLA’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. But capping practice at 28 hours a week for kids below age 14 “may significantly minimize a child’s injury chances and promote long-term, athletic college or even elite success,” he cautioned.
Of course, families need the time and money so their budding star can practice, get all the gear and travel to games. And that’s not something all parents can afford, according to a second recent study form the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan.
Eighteen percent of middle and high schoolers weren’t involved in any kind of athletic or non-athletic extracurricular activity, according to the poll, released Monday. Yet, the non-participation rate was double for the kids of in households making under $100,000 compared to kids living in households making above that amount.
Families need the time and money so their budding star can practice, get all the gear and travel to games. And that’s not something all parents can afford, according to a study form the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll.
Overall, families with a kid playing sports paid on average $408 for sports annually, $251 for arts activities and $126 for other activities. Those costs creates sticker shock for some parents, with 29% saying the expense was greater than anticipated. Ten percent of parents said the benefits didn’t justify the costs.
The findings fit with MarketWatch’s own recent look at the investment some families make to try giving their kid a leg up.
The studies come as national attention is focused on which students succeed and fail in higher education, and how money and athletic talent play a role — rightly or wrongly.
Last week, federal prosecutors announced a blockbuster case ensnaring a college consultant, coaches and well-to-do parents in an alleged admissions cheating scandal powered by a $25 million in bribes, authorities claim. Part of the sprawling scheme was allegedly bribing coaches at elite schools like Yale University, University of Southern California and Stanford University so certain applicants could win seats as athletic recruits.
Later this week, the widely-watched NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will start. The tournaments can be the stage for high athletic drama, the springboard for lucrative careers in professional basketball — not to mention a nice cash infusion for the winners of office pools.
One of the top players to watch in this year’s Big Dance is Zion Williamson, Duke University’s star 18-year-old freshman forward. He’s considered a top prospect for the NBA.
The driven 18-year-old has definitely put in the time and had some injuries along the way. Most notable was Williamson’s right knee sprain in February from a freak footwear incident when his Nike /zigman2/quotes/203439053/composite NKE -1.02% sneaker came apart in a game against the University of North Carolina.
He’s previously said that even as a young child he was rising near dawn to shoot hoops and get in his running drills. As a 16-year-old high school junior, he told USA Today, “It’s taken hard work to get to this point. I was waking up at 5 a.m. when I was 9 working. I know that I’ll only have to work harder if I want to make it to where I want to be. But I’m definitely not complaining.”