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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Harvard Poll: Three in Four Adults Played Sports When They Were Younger, But Only One in Four Still Play

A new NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll finds that although almost three in four adults played sports when they were younger (73 percent), only one in four (25 percent) continue to play sports as adults.

But that decline in interest does not stop parents from encouraging their children to make sports a part of their lives. In fact, almost nine in ten parents whose middle school or high school aged child plays sports (89 percent) say that their child benefits a great deal or quite a bit from participating in sports.

And, while most adults no longer play sports themselves, the majority of parents (72 percent) whose child plays sports say it is very likely or somewhat likely that their child will continue participating in sports when he/she becomes an adult. One in four parents (26 percent) whose high school aged child plays sports also hope their child will become a professional athlete.

When parents were asked about the benefits that their middle school or high school aged child gets from playing sports, more than eight in ten parents whose child plays sports say their child benefits a great deal or quite a bit in his/her physical health (88 percent) and helping him/her learn about discipline or dedication (81 percent). More than seven in 10 parents say that playing sports benefits their child a great deal or quite a bit in learning how to get along with other people (78 percent) and his/her mental health (73 percent). More than half of parents report playing sports benefits their child a great deal or quite a bit in giving him/her skills to help in future schooling (56 percent), and giving him/her skills to help in a future career (55 percent).

For adults who play sports, how they play is important to them. The majority of adults who play sports (56 percent) say that winning is important to them, and the vast majority who play sports (85 percent) say their performance is important to them. Read more