Adolescent males who play team sports are less likely to smoke cigarettes or be depressed but are more likely to drink alcohol and get into fights, whereas sports participation generally reduces risky behavior among girls, Bloomberg reported Nov. 9.
Male athletes had binge-drinking rates 40 percent higher than nonathletes, and were 30 percent more likely to get in fights, but 30 percent less likely to be depressed and 20 percent less likely to smoke. Playing sports cut the smoking risk in half for girls.
“Sports team participation appears to have both protective and risk-enhancing associations,” said Susan M. Conner of the Injury Prevention Center at University Hospitals’ Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, who based her findings on surveys of 13,000 U.S. high-school students. “These results indicate that healthy lifestyle benefits are not universal and do not apply equally across genders.”
The findings were presented at a recent meeting of the American Public Health Association.