Why Kids With ADHD Should Play Fantasy Sports

An interest in sports can be an important part of a child’s identity. Kids wear the numbers and clothing of their favorite players and teams. They root for those teams right along with their parents and other family members.

An interest in sports that starts in childhood can become a lifelong  passion, making one’s life richer and and providing a shared interest with family and friends. Creating this type of passion and community is particularly important for kids with ADHD, who tend to experience difficulty sustaining attention and interests. The family connections that occur across generations rooting for a sports team are invaluable to these kids, fueling the enthusiasm that improves focus and persistence and giving them a sense of belonging.

A lifelong interest in sports can also come from participation in organized leagues, playing sports video games, taking advantage of recreational opportunities, and being involved in fantasy sports. Kids with ADHD can become very engaged in fantasy sports, where participants compile a team of virtual professional athletes who accumulate points. Sixty million people in North America play fantasy sports, and it is an interest readily shared by children with ADHD. It’s also a family affair, a great way to compete and cooperate in families and to share an interest that involves screens (which is often not shared). With the right guidance, fantasy sports can be an ideal way to work on academics, executive functioning, and social-emotional learning skills that are often problematic in kids with ADHD.

Improving Planning Skills with Fantasy Sports. The creation of a team for any fantasy sport requires planning. Fantasy team owners can research players and their statistics before drafting occurs and form a list of the players they wish to select along with multiple back-up choices. At the time of drafting children may not receive the players that were their top choices, at which point they move on to secondary options, for which they should also have planned. It is also important that a team be balanced in order to achieve success. Players may be great at one aspect of a sport but fall short in another. Team owners should want to find players that make up for what other players lack. Selecting a successful team does not just include selecting the star athletes.

Parents can use the following discussion points to highlight the use of planning in fantasy sports:

  • Which players did you most want to draft?
  • How did you decide on the players you eventually did?
  • How can you relate this to selecting the correct answer on a test?

Improving Flexibility Skills with Fantasy Sports. The players that are selected are affected by real-life player occurrences. When players becomes injured this is reflected in fantasy sports, and players will receive no points. In order to be successful, fantasy owners must recognize when players are not performing well, look at alternatives, and adjust to changes in players’ injury status.

Parents can use the following discussion points to highlight the use of flexibility in fantasy sports:

  • Did any of your players not perform well or become injured?
  • How did you evaluate each position-player for replacement?
  • How does this relate to when you are disappointed or things don’t go the way you anticipated?

Improving Social Emotional Learning with Fantasy Sports. Playing fantasy sports offers a bridge to communicate with others, creating a common interest that children can share with other classmates. Children might discuss team standings or the players they have drafted. Players have to join a league with other users in order to create a team. Leagues for kids should only be with peers or family members.

Parents can use the following discussion points to highlight the use of social emotional learning in fantasy sports:

  • What other children do you compete against in your league?
  • How did you decide with whom to make a league?
  • How can you relate playing fantasy sports to sharing your interests with others at school?



Featured image: Flickr user Mike Babcock

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