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D’Youville Partners with Women’s Sports Foundation for Teen Participation Study

D’Youville Partners with Women’s Sports Foundation for Teen Participation Study

Buffalo, New York – March 08, 2018 – The D’Youville Center for Research on Physical Activity, Sport, & Health (CRPASH) recently partnered with the Women’s Sports Foundation to author the study “Teen Sport in America: Why Participation Matters.” D’Youville’s very own Don Sabo, PhD, professor emeritus of Health Policy, co-authored the report and Renee Cadzow, PhD, assistant professor of Health Services Administration and director of CRPASH, served on the panel which reviewed the study’s findings.

The Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) commissioned the report to better understand the impact of sports participation on teen health, well-being, and academic achievement. The report reaffirms that teens who play sports not only do better in school, but also are more likely to have high self-esteem, stronger relationships, and improved physical health.

The biggest aspect that Cadzow wants people to take away from the report is the connection between self-esteem and sport participation. “I think this connection may be even more important than the connection to academic achievement. It’s the non-cognitive skills that predict later life success and this report shows that many sports help youths develop and grow these skills.”

Equitable access and opportunities in sport remains a challenge, particularly as girls are still participating in sports at significantly lower rates than boys. The connection between sport participation and self-esteem was especially true among girls who participate in two or more sports.

Cadzow says it’s important for girls (and youths in general) to have athletic role models, something D’Youville can provide. “I think continuing to encourage D’Youville athletes to engage in community and school sports programs as role models is a great strategy to encourage teens, and especially girls, to take up and sustain sport involvement,” Cadzow notes.

Founded by Sabo in 2002, CRPASH designs, conducts, and disseminates cutting-edge research on the links between physical activity, sport, and health. One of the handful of research centers in the nation that focuses solely on sports and physical activity, CRPASH has documented inequalities in sport across genders, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, school location, and types of community. 

“Parents, community leaders, coaches, and athletic administrators need up-to-date research on how sports influence young people's lives, educational achievements, emotional health, and physical well-being,” says Sabo. “Too often girls have been shortchanged in sport because gender stereotypes and male-dominated athletic organizations have kept girls on the sidelines rather than equitably sharing sport resources with boys.”

Sabo also adds that he hopes more change can come because of this study. “Lots has changed recently to hike the bar of gender equity in youth sports, but there's still work to do to make equal opportunity a reality rather than a goal,” he adds.

Along with its partnership with the Women’s Sports Foundation, CRPASH is also involved in advocacy and research for wellness in the Buffalo Public Schools. This partnership, which involves advocacy for a comprehensive wellness policy, resulted in the district hiring 35 physical education teachers in 2016.

“Engaging girls earlier in sport and consistently supporting their involvement to decrease the attrition that is seen so consistently, and even more so among girls of color, is so important,” added Cadzow.

Founded in 1974 by tennis legend Billie Jean King, the Women’s Sports Foundation is the leading authority on the participation of women and girls in sports. The organization dedicates itself to creating leaders by ensuring that girls have access to sports and works to shape the public attitude about women’s sports and athletes.

To read the full report and its findings, visit the Women in Sports Foundation Research Page.