The recently-ended Sochi Olympics had the world once again talking about the benefits of investing in amateur sports, with much made of the medal bonuses and amount of money invested in amateur sports by participating countries. Naysayers might see the Olympics as nothing but fun and games, but it turns out there are real benefits to investing in amateur athletics. Educating children to be healthier by engaging in sports helps to cut costs in health care, and also reduces police and prison costs, with the added benefit of increased productivity and wages. They aren’t a cultural cure-all, but there’s a lot of good to be done through sport.
Cost of Crime
According to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, the US spent about 37 billion dollars in 2010 to confine 1.3 million inmates. It’s a huge expense, but there are ways around it. One way: invest in sports. Studies show that an increase in sport spending by a dollar on high risk groups reduces police and prison costs by up to 40 dollars. This is partly due to the fact that sports can reduce crime amongst youth by giving individuals an alternative to joining gangs, as well as helping youth establish values. At any
Statistically, those who enter into juvenile correction are far more likely to be arrested later in life, which can cost taxpayers more money in terms of police and prison costs. Individuals who were jailed as youths are three times more likely to enter prison later in life compared to those who were not. In any case, most people would love to have that kind of investment return, and it seems clear that the best investment for any country is to invest in the next generation. Countries should focus more on youth directly instead of the trickle-down participation theory of elite athletes.
Looking at crime from an economic point of view, criminal activity lowers lifetime wages among offenders. Not surprisingly, there is a relationship between juvenile incarceration and future criminal activities, since being arrested as a juvenile reduces wages in two ways.
First, being arrested at a young age can reduce one’s educational potential, which in turn reduces productivity and wages. These high risk adolescents are swept under the rug and left unable to give back to society, in which it’s difficult to get ahead without a proper education. Second, being arrested at a young age can negatively impact the society’s perception of an individual and reduce the likelihood of being hired. No business wants to hire someone with a criminal background, and the jobs that do are often the bottom of the barrel that no one wants.
According to the Central Council of Physical Recreation, individuals who participate in sports are less likely to be involved in illegal activities and are more likely to stay in school and achieve better academic results. Furthermore, sports can reduce crime among youth by giving adolescents an alternative to joining gangs. Statistics show that individuals who were jailed as youths are three times more likely to enter prison later in life compared to those who were not. With that said, it seems that individuals who are incarcerated as youths get infected with a criminal mindset and learn to associate with criminal values.
Investing in sports can help to better the minds of individuals by improving their discipline and drive to accomplish goals. There are proven benefits to academic performance from involvement in sports. Since athletes generally are healthier than average people, their improved health allows them to live and work longer as well as be more efficient over time.
Sports not only train people in physical skills such as strength and agility, but also teach social skills such as working in groups. Sports help develop characteristics such as motivation, self-control, and responsibility from a young age.
Many of these skills cannot be gained in a classroom setting alone, and are very important for a person’s development and social skills. These attributes are likely to reduce absences, since many athletes thrive in a system of rules and are taught not to back down from a challenge. Athletics in turn increases efficiency as an individual applies these skills to make better use of their time in school and at work. In the end, this benefits the economy overall as individuals increase their own productivity levels.
With fast food conveniences and leisure time spent watching TV; no wonder US is the second most obese country in the world. The US spends more per capita on its citizens’ health care than any other country. In 2011, the total expenditure on health care per capita was $8,608 (World Health Organization). With baby boomers aging, it is becoming more important than ever to invest in physical activities.
Studies show that children participate more actively in sports when their parents are involved and set an example. Getting countries active in physical activities will subsequently lower health care costs. Worldwide data suggests that every dollar spent on sports in a country results in three dollars saved on health care costs in that country.
Not only does a country’s investment in sports lower health care costs, but it also boosts the economy. Healthier individuals are more physically and mentally capable in doing their work. They are more productive, effective, and efficient. Workers’ absent rates are lower when individuals have better health. On the other hand, illness, disability and obesity reduce hourly wages significantly, particularly in developing countries where a higher percentage of the work force participates in manual labor.
A survey from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that obesity leads to a decrease in wages. In some cases, people who are obese receive higher average medical payouts which imply that obesity puts a high cost burden on society. That being said, investing in sports can off-set a countries’ cost burdens.
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