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(Medford, MA) — Young people who focus all of their extracurricular activities on sports are putting themselves at risk. Researchers at Tufts University have found adolescent boys and girls who don’t get involved in activities other than sports tend to have the lowest test scores in competence, confidence, character, connection and caring. They have the highest scores when it comes to behaviors like bullying, substance abuse and depression. Participation in sports activities isn’t all bad. The Tufts researchers say youth who combine sports with other development programs ranging from Boys & Girls Clubs to 4-H and Scouting have the highest scores for positive development and contribution and the lowest for risk and problem behavior. The researchers, who tested more than 13-hundred adolescents, say “parents should be certain that their teens balance participation in sports and youth development programs.” Doing so, they say, will enhance “the health and well-being of their sons and daughters.” Study details are published in “Developmental Psychology.”

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