Interscholastic Sports and The Middle School Student: A Case Study
Participating in organized sports activities can result in developmental benefits to the adolescent. Increased fitness, self-esteem, competency, academic success and increased recognition by peers are few of the benefits cited by researchers. Participation can also provide opportunities for developmental liabilities to occur. Researchers have cited liabilities such as stress, anxiety and physiological injury. Developmental benefits and liabilities have been the foci of the controversy that has existed over adolescents participating in interscholastic sports programs in the middle and junior high school.
Although research has studied the impact of interscholastic sports on the high school and collegiate athlete, few studies have investigated the impact of interscholastic sports on the middle school athlete. This qualitative case study of four middle school athletes investigated the benefits and liabilities of participating on an interscholastic team to the adolescent athlete.
Based on the literature, four domains were identified as benefits and two domains were identified as liabilities. These six domains were achievement, competency, fitness, self-esteem, sports injuries, stress and anxiety. Interviews were held with students, coaches and parents. These interviews were based on domain specific questions. A journal was kept, and a document review of achievement, attendance and medical records was completed.
The study revealed a pattern of improved grades, increased skill levels in the sport, improved fitness, and increased self-esteem. The students experienced injuries and moments of stress and anxiety.