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High School Sports, Performing Arts Help Students Face Today’s Challenges (NFHS RELEASE)

October 3, 2018
High School Sports, Performing Arts Help Students Face Today’s Challenges
NOTE: As National High School Activities Month begins today, Dr. Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, discusses some of the benefits of participating in high school activity programs in this editorial. 
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (October 1, 2018) – From the “Greatest Generation” to “Baby Boomers,” “Generation X” to “Millennials,” teenagers in every era have had challenges growing up. In today’s digital world, high school students are being tested in unique and demanding ways. The Washington Post confirms that 73 percent of American teenagers own their own smartphone and, on average, spend almost nine hours a day texting, chatting, gaming, blogging, streaming and visiting with friends online.  
Although conclusive research showing a direct correlation between the mental health of teenagers and smartphone usage won’t be complete for years, it isn’t a great confidence builder for a student to discover online that everyone else seems to have more friends.
In addition, recent figures indicate that more than 31 percent of America’s 42 million teenagers are overweight or obese, compared to only five percent in 1980.
Not surprisingly, many psychologists and researchers agree that today’s teenagers are more lonely, anxious and depressed than ever before.
As the new school year gets underway and social pressures increase, statistics like these verify how important it is for teenagers to participate in high school sports and other activities such as marching band, choir, speech and debate.   
The most recent survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) indicates there are almost eight million participants in high school sports and more than four million in performing arts activities. Most of these students would agree the primary advantage of playing a sport or participating in an after-school activity is the opportunity to meet new people and develop meaningful friendships. An online chat is no substitute for working toward a common goal face-to-face, side-by-side for weeks on end with teammates.   
And positive social relationships are only the beginning. Among other benefits, high school sports are instrumental in helping teenagers establish nutritional and exercise habits that will carry them for a lifetime. Participating in a sport in high school is a great way to maintain a healthy weight, establish good eating and sleeping habits, discourage the use of alcohol and drugs and develop a greater sense of self-esteem.  
Additional benefits of participating in a high school sport or activity are shared by the NFHS at www.MyReasonWhy.com, where dozens of high school students address this topic in their own words through videos. 
A new school year brings with it an opportunity for teenagers to make new friends and establish new lifestyle habits. Encouraging them to make friends on the field of play as well as online is a great way to start.
About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 16 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,500 high schools and 12 million participants in high school activity programs, including almost 8 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org.
MEDIA CONTACTS:                  Bruce Howard, 317-972-6900
                                                   Director of Publications and Communications
                                                   National Federation of State High School Associations
                                                   [email protected]
                                         Chris Boone, 317-972-6900
                                                   Assistant Director of Publications and Communications
                                                   National Federation of State High School Associations
                                                   [email protected]

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