Little League and other sports programs have a big effect on players, write Scott Ganz and Kevin Hassett in The American.
Other things being equal, if a kid plays sports, he will earn more money, stay in school longer, and be more engaged in civic life.
They cite a study, by economists John M. Barron and Glen R. Waddell of Purdue University and Bradley T. Ewing of Texas Tech University who surveyed American males who attended high school in the 1970s. High school athletes went on to complete more years of education and earn more money than non-athletes. Another study by Ewing found that ex-jocks had a smaller but still significant edge over classmates who participated in band, student government and theater but not sports. The results hold up when students with similar IQ scores and standardized test scores are compared: Jocks do better.
A 2006 study, which controlled for age, educational attainment, and income, “found that athletes are 15 percent more likely to be registered to vote, 14 percent more likely to watch the news, and 8 percent more likely to feel comfortable speaking in public (and, for public speaking, the effect on females is twice as large).”
I wonder if young athletes outperform classmates who compete in debate, robotics, Academic Decathlon or similar activities. Is it sports? Or is it competition, teamwork and a coach’s leadership?
When I was growing up in Illinois, girls weren’t allowed to compete on school sports teams by state law. It was supposed to be bad for us, though nobody explained why. Soccer was a game for foreigners. That’s certainly changed.