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What Is the Relationship between Sports and Community Development?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2016
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Sports and community development are linked on several levels that, when properly harnessed, can improve the lives of citizens and promote healthy culture. Though seemingly unrelated to community development, sports opens avenues of communication between people of all levels of society and background, and allows at-risk populations an avenue of safety. Organized sports often stress the values of fair play and sportsmanship, and thus can make a real contribution to improved citizenship. The health, lifespan, and quality of life for citizens may all be improved by sports and fitness programs. Sports and community development are also linked economically, when the funds raised from sporting events are reinvested in the local community.

One of the key links between sports and community development is the opportunity for citizens from different worlds to meet on a common playing field. On a company sports team, for instance, office workers may mix with company executives on an equal level, allowing each to get to know the other as an individual and a teammate. Families from different racial and economic backgrounds may be brought together with a common goal of cheering on their children at an intramural sports event. By learning to view other citizens as teammates and fellow sports enthusiasts, sports can bolster the level of connection people feel to their town or city.

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Sports programs for young people can play an important role in preventing crime, gang activity, and drug abuse while promoting the values of sportsmanship. In areas with serious juvenile crime levels, after school sports can provide an adult-supervised option for at-risk youth. By participating in sports, young people learn the values of fair play, hard work, and dedication while remaining under the eye of coaches. Once these values are instilled, students may also be more likely to apply them to their education and future as well as their sport. By offering sports programs to at-risk youth, the community may benefit by creating citizens who are invested in their own futures, their hometown, and the well-being of those around them.

Many countries in the 21st century are experiencing an epidemic of obesity thanks to poor nutrition and inadequate exercise. By offering community sports leagues, fitness classes, and other health-oriented programs, a community can reap the benefits of a healthier population. People involved in sports may be less likely to be overweight, suffer from fewer weight-related diseases such as diabetes and heart problems, and have a better self-image and quality of life. Productivity at work may improve as healthier people are less likely to need sick days, thus bolstering the local economy. By connecting sports and community development, a town can help promote a healthier life for its population.

Sports and community development can be mutually beneficial on an economic level. Sporting events and teams can raise money through ticket sales, concession sales, and by hosting tournaments and special events. If a portion of this money is paid to the city, the community may benefit from increased funding for programs, improvements, and new development. By sharing the profits, community sports can help pave the way for cultural events, infrastructure, and outreach programs, benefiting the community as a whole.

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