Sports: Play Younger, Play Longer

FRESNO, Calif.

All that energy before the big game may have its roots at recess.

"You just sign up and hang out and play with your friends," Kiera Turner, a student, told Ivanhoe. Kiera is finally coming out of her shell.

"I got to show more of my athletic side to people," she said.

North Carolina researchers say kids who participate in sports at a young age play for life. Their study found 21 percent of sixth grade girls don't get their recommended one-hour daily workout time, and zero percent of eighth grade girls pass that test.

"The intramural sport model has the capacity to get many more kids involved," Jason Bocarro, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., told Ivanhoe.

"Knowing that a student is comfortable playing sports … really translates into playing sports over a lifetime," Jonathan Casper, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., added.

Studies show most kids who stop playing sports do so between sixth and eighth grades. Sixty-eight percent of those kids want to play sports but don't have the resources or time. Seventy percent of kids who quit before high school never play again. Kids who don't stay fit often stay that way as adults.

"I have more energy than I would if I was trying out because I'd be so nervous," Kiera told Ivanhoe.

Kiera's chance to play means more athletics, every day. If her peers do the same, the U.S. may curb the 300,000 yearly deaths caused by weight gain.

"I don't like standing still or like being in a closed environment for a long time," Kiera said.

The two-year long study from North Carolina State University researchers Bocarro and Casper also shows kids who play sports have more confidence in social situations. Beyond that, people who play a wide variety of sports as kids are more likely to keep playing those sports as adults.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Melissa Medalie at

Jason N. Bocarro, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management
North Carolina State University
(O) (919) 513-8025

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