THE INFLUENCE OF SPORTS ON YOUTH AND CRIME
Clifton Douglas, Former Club President and Athletic Director for the Glenarden Ardmore Boys Club in
Prince George County, MD
There is much debate today about whether too much emphasis is being placed on competitive sports for America’s youth. Overlooked in this dialogue is the life-changing role sports can play for at-risk youth in low-income urban neighborhoods and the need for more sports-based youth programs to reduce crime and increase high school graduation rates in our cities. It is unrealistic to claim that organized youth
sport alone can reduce the levels of youth crime in society. The causes of youth crime are complex and multidimensional. Organized sport programs can, however, contribute to reducing youth crime by giving young people a positive identity, feelings of empowerment and by helping youth acquire leadership, teamwork, and self-governance skills. It enhances psychosocial well-being, such as increased resiliency, self-esteem, and connections with others. These features of sport are beneficial to people of all ages, but they are especially vital to the healthy development of young people.