Developing a Healthy Lifestyle and Team Spirit
One of our initiatives at Wings of Love, Inc. is the Young Adult Sports Program. This pilot program, though set to expand, will initially offer both a basketball and a baseball team. Each team will accept under 21 young adult athletes onto their roster.
Teams would be organized into a league, a season would be played, and a championship held at the end to determine a winner in order to help provide key opportunities for the teamwork, physical and social development young adult sports are so effective at providing.
Why Young Adult Sports?
The numbers are clear: it is during adolescence that most people stop participating in sports. Considering we tend to live far beyond adolescence, having such an early, or premature, cessation of participation in healthy physical activities like team sports clearly has potentially life-long negative side-effects.
Since adolescence is whence most people drop out of sports, this demographic is key to target in order to encourage life-long health and wellness among many other things. Adolescence is the stage in life when we grow from being a child into an adult, this means our values and priorities change during adolescence. While it’s true that both children and adults participate in physical activities like team sports, they do so for different reasons.
By developing a pilot program, Wings of Love, Inc. is helping to change the drop-out numbers in the areas we work with, as well as to help provide a greater overall understanding about why adults participate in sports – something currently needed in the community.
Why Current Research into Adult Participation in Sport Must Improve
Much of sports psychology research has concentrated on explaining motives for participation and adherence, looking at significant variables such as gender, age, and culture. The contexts for this research has tended to be specific sports codes, with the sample populations typically being youth, adolescents, and/or elite level sports people.
However, more and more research is starting to emerge as interest in the motivation of adult engagement in sport and physical activity increases. This research has shown more and more the benefits of moderate, regular physical activity. To date, research into this topic has tended to approach the matter from a health perspective, concerning itself with sports as a health activity. When research only examines things from one perspective – such as health, instead of others, for example social, gaps within our knowledge of adult motivations to participate in sport and physical activity are created.
Here’s just a brief list of motivating factors adults (18+) have cited as reasons why they participate in sports – all of which should be researched as health has been:
|1. Physical Fitness and Health
2. Social Motives / Enjoyment / Relaxation / Appearance
3. Personal Challenge
4. Mastery Orientation / Weight Loss
|5. Sense of Achievement / Competition
6. Medical Sanction
7. More Energy
The reasons are listed in order of most research available to least amount available.
Unsurprisingly, the picture of demotivation is just as complex and varied:
No longer having fun
Lost interest in the sport/activity
Didn’t like the coach
Switched to a new sport/activity
Ultimately, until all these areas are researched, the problem of the high drop-out rates during adolescence may be hard to erase. What is clear, however, is that more programs run by initiatives like Wings of Love, Inc. who are aware, not just of the immediate needs of the students participating in these programs, but also of the need for more research and are willing to work on both at once are needed.
Using What We Know To Make a Difference
Critically, it is estimated a significant proportion of children drop out of sport each year. While a small percentage are simply changing sports, a much larger percentage simply stops participating completely. One study of youth sport participants found that while 25% of 10 year olds participate in sports, only 3% of 18 year olds do. By targeting this age demographic, we can help change these numbers.
Research has also shown us that girls, in particular, tend to leave sports because of negative physical and emotional experiences. Additionally, research has revealed many girls drop out simply because the sport is too competitive for them to view themselves as viable to the team effort. Though not in as large a percentage, boys also report that sports becoming too-competitive leads to withdrawal. By focusing on including both genders and fostering an atmosphere of team-work, fun, and learning instead of intense competition, we can encourage adolescents to stay active who would have otherwise stopped participating.
The Ultimate Goal of the Wings of Love, Inc. Young Adult Sports Program
Ultimately, not nearly enough research into why adults stay active in sports (or do not) has been done in the past. What we currently have, at best, is research from inconsistent approaches and conflicting theoretical foundations. Additionally, most of this has focused on team sports exclusively, leaving any knowledge of adult participation in individual sports virtually unknown.
At Wings of Love, Inc., we want to encourage as many young-adult athletes as we can to participate in both team and individual sports throughout their adult life. We believe in health and wealth, so our goal to help those young adult athletes who participate in our program stay motivated and committed to health by helping to make them financially secure. We hope to provide all participants with all kinds of opportunities to forge lifelong friendships, learn valuable leadership and life skills, and develop the independence they’ll need to systematically build, grow, and sustain.
Through the success of these pilot sports, basketball and baseball, we hope to establish the footprint that we can use to add to these offerings with both more team and individual sports to hopefully change the lives of as many young adults as possible with this initiative.