Sports have this amazing, unique way of making a positive impact in society. Whether it’s helping children, communities or even nations, sports make a difference on a daily basis.
Of course, nothing is all rosy, but there is great things done with sports as the platform. Team and player foundations are raising money for worthy causes, major events are boosting local economies and kids are encouraged to get out and get active.
So rather than focusing on off-the-field scandals or even the games themselves, let’s take a few moments to focus on nothing but the positives.
Sports is actually a billion-dollar business. But what you might not realize is the immensely positive impact sports have on local economies, mostly through tourism dollars.
1) Helping Kids Get Active:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “More than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese” in 2012.
Young people who look up to athletes might be more likely to get out and play sports themselves. As a more concrete example, sports leagues have done their part to get kids active and healthy. The NFL Play 60 campaign
works to “tackle childhood obesity by getting kids active.” MLB has its RBI program, or Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, that teaches baseball and softball to non privileged urban youth.
Besides league-sponsored programs, the number of children playing sports in America in general is significant. According to Bruce Kelley and Carl Carchia of ESPN The Magazine, in 2011, approximately 21.5 million youth between ages six and 17 played team sports.
- Employment Outlook:
Aside from helping children get active and healthy, sports involvement can have other major rewards such as mental well-being and increased self-esteem.
Currently, a new study, “Sports at Work: Anticipated and Persistent Correlations of Participation in High School Athletics,” by Cornell behavioral science professor Kevin Kniffin found that sports can have a great impact on employment outlook as well. According to the study, young people who played high school sports had a better career outlook and did better in their jobs later in life.
I know this may sound a bit cheesy, but one of the most positive things about sports is the pure, unadulterated joy that can result—for the players, coaches, fans and everyone involved.
Sports are emotional, and they can stir up great passion. Sometimes it’s joyful, and other times it’s not. But anytime something can bring out that range of extreme, raw emotion in people, it’s a good thing.
Like Jim Valvano openly said in his 1993 ESPY speech, “…you should have your emotions moved to tears, it could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day.
Jobs is part of the economic impact. According to Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., as of 2013, the sports industry in America produced 456,000 jobs (average salary $39,000).
These jobs include far more than just the athletes—EMSI looked at other occupations involved with spectator sports such as coaches, referees and agents. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the many stadium vendors and their employees, front-office personnel, etc.
- National Unity
Sports creates a platform for people to come together and support their country. International events like the Olympics and the World Cup serve as a point around which to rally and show national pride and unity.
During the 2014 World Cup, American fans turned out in en masse to assist the men’s national team. FIFA reported that 200,000 World Cup tickets were sold to U.S. residents. The U.S. match against Portugal was one of the most-watched soccer games in U.S. history with approximately 24.7 million viewers.
Sports also have the competence to lift people up in times of difficulties. The Miracle on Ice came at a time when tensions were high in the Cold War, and South Africa’s 1995 Rugby World Cup victory assisted a nation heal from decades of Apartheid.