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Column: Value of playing prep sports

Three values high school students can get out of participating in sports are being more active, being emotionally well and the opportunity to participate in sports at the collegiate or professional levels.

For high school aged students, being active is very important in their lives. According to the United Health Foundation, Mississippi ranked No. 1 in the United States with a 39.2% of children (from ages 10-17) who were overweight or obese. On the other hand, Louisiana ranked No. 32 with 30.9% of youth who are overweight. The national average is 31.0%.

I think that if a child involves him or herself in sports, then that child might not be overweight. The value of exercise will increase the child’s ability to be involved in their school and other activities. Youths being involved in exercise also can help decrease teen suicides.

In the United States, Mississippi ranked No. 16 with 9.6 number of deaths by suicide per 100,000 adolescents from ages 15-19. Meanwhile, Louisiana was the No. 21 rank with 11.3 number of deaths by suicide per 100,00 adolescents.

By having children and teens involved in both academics and athletics, the rate of teen suicide and obesity might decrease over time.

Another value of participating in athletics is the chance to play sports in college and eventually play in professional leagues.

In 2017-18, more than 480,000 student-athletes competed in NCAA sports. Among the participation, 3.4% of high school male student-athletes competed at the NCAA level in basketball, 7.1% in football and 7.3% in baseball.

Among female high school student-athletes, 4.0% played basketball in the NCAA 5.5% in softball and 6.1% in track and field.

I think this is compelling because it tells how hard it is to play any sport in college.

A select few of athletes compete at the professional level.

For the high school student athletes who compete in multiple sports, more than 30 professional athletes competed in two sports.

Two current professional athletes that played multiple sports in high school are Patrick Mahomes and Stephen Curry.

Mahomes is the quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs who just won the Super Bowl. In high school, Mahomes participated in baseball, football and basketball. While competing in multiple sports, Mahomes said he believed that each sport helped him become a better quarterback on the football field.

Just like Mahomes, Curry, who is the point guard for the Golden State Warriors, also played multiple sports in high school. Curry played basketball, football and baseball in high school at Charlotte Christian High School in North Carolina.

The values of participating in sports are being emotionally well, being active and having the potential to carry on the sport in college or at the professional level. For high school student-athletes, they should focus on maintaining their grades and enjoy playing in their various sports.

PATRICK MURPHY is a sports reporter for The Natchez Democrat.

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