Do Sports Keep Kids Out Of Trouble? | How About E-Sports? | What the Research Says | SDP 166

[Podcast] Doc was recently interviewed by a large-market news company assembling a documentary about youth violence directed at adults. Ultimately, the question of “What can be done to prevent this?” was asked. A staunch proponent of increasing funding, research, and training on threat identification and reporting, Dr. Perrodin delivered his versed spell-binder on the matter. When asked about sports, or perhaps the decline of youth sports, contributing to youth violence, Dr. Perrodin found himself conflicted with the research.

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YOUTH SPORTS PARTICIPATION IN AMERICA ARE DECREASING, INCREASING, or CONFUSING. Per the National Council of Youth Sports, “About 60 million children and teens from age 6 to 18 participate in organized sports each year with 73 percent involved in more than one sport.” But those numbers are complicated. From 2008 to 2018, Aspen Project Play found that the participation rate of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 dropped from 45 to 38 percent, due largely to the increasing costs, time commitments, and competitive nature of organized sports leagues. Statista reports (2019) reports that there are 50 million children in the United States between the ages of six and seventeen.

 DOES PARTICIPATING IN SPORTS DECREASE JUVENILE DELINQUENCY? According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, “Participation in sports activities is very popular among adolescents, and is frequently encouraged among youth. Many psychosocial health benefits in youth are attributed to sports participation, but to what extent this positive influence holds for juvenile delinquency is still not clear on both the theoretical and empirical level. SOURCE: doi: 10.1007/s10964-015-0389-7.” As Dr. Perrodin examined studies and meta-analysis reports, the findings largely fell into the same basin – there was not a statistical relation between youth sports participation and youth violence. The most prevalent connections were between youth physical activity and youth physical health.

HOW ABOUT E-SPORTS? This is where things get interesting. When we think of youth sports, our minds are populated with images of baseball diamonds and folding-camp-chair-lined soccer fields. Though generating controversy over whether the pastime qualifies as true sport, E-Sports has exploded in popularity in recent years. In a 2019 Forbes article by Bob Cook, “At least seven state high school associations are offering esports at a varsity level, and more will add it. Even states without official varsity esports run state tournaments, and prizes can include scholarship money to one of the 115 colleges (and growing) fielding esports teams, and, in many cases, offering scholarships to gamers.” Complexity Gaming, a professional esports organization owned by Dallas Cowboys’ owner and youth sports investor Jerry Jones, is building a training facility at the Cowboys’ headquarters, The Star in Frisco, Texas.

DO VIDEO GAMES MAKE YOUTH VIOLENT? No. This question is oft-asked, and the 2008 book Grand Theft Childhood by Harvard University’s Dr. Cheryl K. Olson and Dr. Lawrence Kutner is one of the most-cited works to debunk violent or graphic video games causing youth to engage in violent behavior.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUTH VIOLENCE RESEARCH? We are at a disruption point or possibly a convergence in what is considered a youth sport. Studies seeking to uncover relationships between participation in sports and violence must now include E-sports. What nuanced areas might be studied in E-sports? If Doc was assembling a research study, his constructs might be (1) badges and incentives; (2) social etiquette and moderating; (3) incidents of delinquent or violent behavior compared to non-sport youth; and (4) incidents of harm to self or harm to others compared to overall youth population.

E-SPORTS AND INCLUSION. While traditional sports are difficult to access by youth with physical disabilities, E-Sports are more inclusive. You could have a wheelchair-using student be a captain of his school’s E-Sports team. What might be the impact of E-Sports on Title IV?

This is episode 166 of The Safety Doc Podcast published on 01-11-2022.


Purchase Dr. Perrodin’s books 

School of Errors – Rethinking School Safety in America

The Velocity of Information – Human Thinking During Chaotic Times


1 Comment

  1. Epicurus on January 13, 2022 at 7:17 pm

    This is a smart take on how we attempt to track kids into outdated work or extracurricular path options. Today, you have a legit chance at being a social media influencer if you invest the time and learn analytics. You might not make a living from eSports, but it might be the modern version of the 1980s softball league. This is a disruptive change. All states should have eSports for high schools. Great points in this show. This will be important to inclusion and Title IV.