Student Well-Being

Many Parents Say Children’s Free Time Is Best Spent With Sports

By Bryan Toporek — November 08, 2012 1 min read

Forty-six percent of parents think their children’s free time is best spent through sports activities, while only 18 percent would prefer intellectual or academic activities for their children instead, according to a recent survey.

However, “being good at math” and “being outgoing” were two traits that far outranked “being good at sports” in terms of which skills parents thought would help their children be most successful in life.

The survey, which was commissioned by the Raytheon Co., gathered the responses of 1,000 parents of children between the ages of 6 and 15. (Koski Research actually conducted the survey in September.)

As my colleague Erik Robelen explains on the Curriculum Matters blog, the survey mainly focuses on mathematics and its influence on future success. Fifty-three percent of the parents surveyed chose “being good at math” as a trait they believed would help their children succeed in life, while only 5 percent chose “being good at sports.”

Seeing as how only a small fraction of K-12 student-athletes end up pursuing a career in professional sports, it appears that many parents are level-headed when it comes to understanding the slim odds of establishing a lucrative professional sports career.

The fact that so many parents value sports for their children, as evidenced by the 46 percent who think their child’s free time is best spent in sports activities, is pretty huge if the U.S. stands a realistic chance at reversing the childhood-obesity epidemic.

Schools certainly have a role to play, as the Institute of Medicine spelled out in a report earlier this year, but schools can’t be held fully responsible for a child’s weight. A student could eat healthily and exercise at school, but if he or she goes home, eats unhealthy foods that are high in calories, and remains physically inactive, that child could very well struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

In short, parents who recognize the value of physical activity for their children will be integral to the fight against childhood obesity.

Based on the findings of Raytheon’s survey, it appears as though finding such parents won’t be too difficult.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.