The advantages and disadvantages of sports for children has been a topic of debate among parents, sports lovers, health professionals and sociologists. The main question being asked, is do the "pros really outweigh the cons"? Could the benefits of exercise, opportunity for socialization and lessons of sportsmanship outweigh the possibility of injury, cheating in sports and academics and pressure from overzealous parents and trainers? Although the answers may not be straightforward, it is important to continue the debate so that parents, trainers and physicians can help children determine what is best for them.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, although the health benefits of activity in organized sports is better than no physical activity at all, and can be beneficial in reducing risks of diabetes, heart disease and obesity, there may be other ways for kids to stay healthy. A start is to have more opportunities for both structured play and unstructured play at school recess and physical education times. Organized sports should complement but not replace free play, child-organized games and recreational sports in schools.
In an article in the Los Angeles Times, author Jeannine Stein cited Michael Bergeron, exercise physiologist and assistant professor at the Medical College of Georgia, who also agrees with free play. According to him, much of what children need can be found in free play. From running around the playground, exploring the backyard and playing with age-appropriate equipment and toys, children, especially young children, will naturally get the exercise they need to keep their weight down.
[...] Structure is pressure, and it leads to frustration if a child is not ready for that.” It is clear that the advantages and disadvantages of organized sports for children and pre-adolescents will continue to be a heavily debated topic. Although there are many studies, and facts that support both sides, there seems to be one point of agreement between the two. Parents first and then coaches play the most significant role in first deciding if organized sports is right for a child, then making the commitment to be as involved as they can without “overdoing Bibliography Burnett, Darrell J. [...]
[...] Next, a new of organized sports for children has been a recent cause for investigation by coaches, parents, and professionals. According to Michael Josephson, president of the nonprofit Josephson Institute and founder of the national program, CHARACTER COUNTS! many coaches particularly in the high profile sports of boys' basketball, baseball and football are teaching kids how to cheat and cut corners. In addition, far too many boys and girls engage in other dishonest, deceptive and dangerous practices without regard for the rules or traditional notions of fair play and sportsmanship." Michael Josephson came to these conclusions after conducting a two-year survey of high school athletes in 2007. [...]
[...] First, while sports participation provides numerous physical and social benefits for the more than 30 million children who participate in organized sports in the United States, the risk of sports related injuries is a major downside. In fact, according to a 2002 report by the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 1.9 million children under 15 were treated in emergency departments the year before for sports-related injuries. The most common child injuries related to sports includes sprains, strains, growth plate injuries, stress fractures from repetitive movement and heat related illnesses (“Childhood Sports Injuries”). [...]
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