Too much sports? This has been a hot topic over recent years, having seen it debated through various forms of media as well as virtually all of the “social circles” that I have involvement. One thing is certain to me. THERE IS A LOT OF DISAGREEMENT. Not surprising to me since my own stance has altered somewhat with the “changing of times”.
Before we go any furthur, lets get a couple of things out of the way. First, this topic is concerning young people that really like sports and require little encouragement to jump right in. Parents that continuosly push their child to play sports is a separate topic for another day. Also, in order to discuss a broad topic like this, we must take a general approach. There are exceptions to most things and kids are no different. I understand that each child and their circumstances are unique. What’s good for one may not be good for another.
As I stated earlier, my stance has changed over the years. In the past, I was completely focused on a “healthy balance” and thought that sports schedules of many families made it impossible to achieve balance. By the way, I consider a healthy balance to be an ample amount of time given to academics, “family time”, church activities, extra curricular activities such as sports, and chores. I still believe in having a healthy balance, but I now understand that sports cannot be blamed as to why a child’s life is not “balanced”. Here’s why:
Sports provides a “balance” of positives in a child’s life.
1. It teaches so much that assists a kid in deveoping skills necessary to be a successful adult. These include developing discipline, being more responsible, learning to work with others, developing work habits, setting/achieving goals, and handling adversity, just to name a few.
2. Sports can be great family time. For instance, I have a 14 year-old boy that’s played baseball since age six. When I reflect on our 14 years together, I realize that some of our best family memories have come from sports. Not always from the baseball field, but sometimes fun family memories come from our travels to tournaments or experiences that we have had at the motels that we’ve stayed….sometimes even between or after games, not to mention our restaurant outings as a team! Ten baseball families together on a weekend has the potential to generate a multitude of memories!
3. It’s great exercise and promotes a healthy lifestyle.
4. Christian values can be reinforced during athletic competition…such as sportsmanship. I’ve enjoyed seeing our team huddle together in prayer before each game. Also, some sports programs such as Upward Basketball promotes Christian values at each practice and game. They even provide Christian devotionals at halftime! Check them out.
If your child is playing a lot of sports, they have the opportunity to receive many of the above benefits. Over the last few years, studies show that the majority of children are not playing “too much” (or any) sports. THE MAJORITY OF KIDS IN OUR COUNTRY SPEND MOST OF THEIR TIME PLAYING VIDEO GAMES,WATCHING TELEVISION AND VIEWING THE INTERNET UNSUPERVISED. During my time as a therapist, most of my young clients spend the majority of time viewing the internet(Facebook’s a favorite), texting friends, and also seem to enjoy watching adults behaving badly on reality TV shows. Unfortunately, these things dominate the lives of so many young people and provide few positives. Compare this behavior, which has become the norm, to the extremely structured world of youth sports, which includes adult supervision at all times. I choose sports over the “norm”, hands down.
One last thing. Sports isn’t the only activities that provide great benefit to a child. Your kid may not even like sports. There are numerous activities available with great benefit such as band, clubs (such as 4-H, or the Boy/Girl Scouts) and many others. The key is to get your child involved in positive activities and help them to avoid all of the negatives mentioned in the paragraph above. With few exceptions, structured and supervised activities are good for a child. Most unsupervised activities, not so good. Too much free time with “nothing to do” can lead to some big-time problems. Take the lead as a parent and assist your child in exploring whats right for them. Help your child to get involved. Start today!