This Business Insider piece covers a longitudinal study by Joseph P. Allen from the University of Virginia. As noted in The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way (see my review of the book in these postings: Finland; Poland; American Public; American Private; What can a Parent do?; Korea), Americans like to comfort themselves that though our schools perform poorly on things that are easy to measure, such as educational attainment, they perform well on things that are hard to measure, such as socialization and sports team building: “Instead of the apprenticeship/mentoring environments that prevailed throughout most of human history, we decided to put hundreds of teenagers together all day every day. What could go wrong?” Allen’s study, however, found that teenagers who were experts at impressing other teenagers did not have superior skills for impressing adults. As adults have most of the power in this country, the “cool kids” from high school struggled upon reaching their 20s.
My personal experience in this area comes from following the most popular kid from my 5th grade class. He had long blond hair, was good at sports, and got invited to every birthday party. My parents lived in the same house for more than 45 years so I thought that perhaps they might know how he was doing as an adult. My mom said “I know exactly what he is doing. He’s living in his parents’ basement, smoking dope, drinking beer, and watching TV all day.”
Separately, to celebrate the World Cup, here’s a story from 10 years ago: I was walking past a youth soccer game with a friend from Massachusetts. She said “This is wonderful. By playing on a team these kids are learning everything that they will need to succeed in business.” I replied “Yes, I’m sure that you’re right. That’s why Nigeria, Argentina, and Cameroon have the strongest economies.”