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Kids more likely to Stay in Sports if it is Fun

Update Date: Jul 10, 2014 09:51 AM EDT

Even though winning can be rewarding, a new studying is reporting that winning, for kids at least, is not everything. According to the researchers, children are more likely to stay in sports if they find it fun. Winning, on the other hand, has a lesser effect on sports participation.

"We're seeing a lot less activity in kids than we did before," said Edward Laskowski, a physical medication and rehabilitation specialist from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN reported by USA Today. "About one-third of kids in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese. It's certainly an epidemic."

Amanda Visek, author of the study and an associate professor of exercise science at George Washington University, added, "If our goal is to keep kids as physically active for as long as possible, we're looking at organized sport as this solution to a public health crisis."

For this study headed by researchers from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University located in Washington D.C., the researchers interviewed around 230 children, coaches and adults. The children were between the ages of nine and 19, and were all on soccer teams. The children also participated in other sports. The researchers asked them questions about factors that contributed to their decision to participate in sports.

The team identified 81 factors that influenced children's participation in sports and discovered that the number one factor was enjoyment. Based off of this finding, the researchers created a concept map titled FUN MAPS, which outlined what the aspects of sports that children thought were fun.

"When we think about fun we think about this abstract, elusive thing, and now we're trying to define it," Visek said. "If you look at the map, it gives you a 360-degree picture of what fun is ... and we have displayed things in one picture that's easy for anyone to understand."

The researchers hope that by understanding what motivates children to participate and stay in sports, they can create more programs that encourage children to be active. The study, "The Fun Integration Theory: Towards Sustaining Children and Adolescents Sport Participation," was published in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

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