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Boys' Team Sports May Encourage Bad Behavior
Date:11/11/2009

Male high school athletes more likely to drink and fight than females, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to teaching healthy behaviors, boys' high school team sports might be doing more harm than thought.

New research suggests that for teenage boys, participation in team sports may encourage unruly behavior such as fighting and binge drinking.

Girls, on the other hand, seem to behave better in organized sports, said the lead researcher, Susan Connor, manager of the injury prevention program at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland.

"The research raises more questions than it answers," said Connor, who was to present her findings at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting, in Philadelphia, which concludes Wednesday. "We were looking at a broad database, so we do not know why team sports may affect boys differently or how they affect them. That's a topic for further research."

Connor and her team studied the responses of more than 13,000 U.S. high school students who took part in the 2007 Youth Risk Behavioral Study, an assessment of adolescent high-risk behaviors conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Connor's findings, roughly 60 percent of the male respondents said they had played in at least one team sport in the past year. For girls, the participation rate was 48 percent.

The data did not specify which sports the teenagers participated in, although the top high school sports in the 2000 U.S. Census included basketball, football, baseball, soccer, track and field, and cross-country running.

For boys, the study found that participation in team sports correlated with an increased likelihood of fighting, drinking and binge drinking. Rates of depression and smoking, however, seemed to decline.

The findings were different for girls. White girls who were active i
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