Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The impact of sports

If I say, ‘young kids playing sports’ what would your response be?

All for it? Too cute? Start ‘em young!? or No way. Too boring. Why bother??

It seems like kids younger and younger are playing sports and some contact sports no less and I’ve been thinking a lot about it and not just lately. Naturally, I don’t have kids, so I can’t say when the time comes that I do, how my opinion will be then, but I don’t think it’ll be far off from what it is now.

I’m not for it. Kids as young as 5 are playing t-ball, football and soccer and I know it’s real cute seeing them out there in their uniforms but all I think about are the injuries.

Does that make me lame?

Do the parents honestly think about what kind of ailments their kids will have at their age? Playing sports, even tackle football at such a young age and considering what playing hard sports all year round for 12 years (not counting college) will do to their bodies?

I started running track at the age of 10, started playing club basketball at the age of 12 and played volleyball at the age of 13. I continued to play all 3 sports all 4 years of high school and played volleyball in college for a year then in a city league. Even though I started at an older age, I can attest to what all those years of sports has done to this 30 year old body.

I can only lift 5lbs with my right arm and it takes 10-15 minutes to warm up my shoulder, before I can throw a ball overhand. My knees are so shot from all the impact and injuries. After severely hyperextending my right knee in track (at 16), I can’t bend it fully, not to mention spraining my ankles so many times, cracking and bruising my tailbone from so many charges that its crooked and causes a lot of problems. And of course hitting my head, jamming fingers, breaking my foot and on and on and on.

I’m saying all this because if I knew that I would have what feels like an 80 year olds body as early as 23, I would never had played so many sports and only chosen 1 each year. (it would have been volleyball..in case anyone’s still with me)

G-man and I talk about this all the time. He agrees with me on limiting it to 1 and can rattle off his own list of problems that constant sports has done to his body. If you could see us getting off the couch..or even the ground (oi, the ground!) you’d find it comical with how slow we are.

I see these young kids and all I can think about is why are they playing? Is it for the parents? We’ve seen how many “passionate” parents get into down right fights over calls and disagreements with other parents’ since the kid did their kid ‘wrong’. Is it because the kid at age 5 said, ‘mom, dad…I’m still learning to tie my shoes, but I really want to play tackle football.’??

I get learning fundamentals and coordination and a skill. I get that! I just wonder if they get the aches, pains and future arthritis and surgeries they may need because of it.

I’m sure there are varying opinions on this topic and I would love to hear what they are. I do have other reasons to keep them from playing but my main reason is the impact it has on their bodies.

How much do you disagree (or agree) with me or think I’m off base?

If you have kids, do you have them play sports? And when did they start?
Do you plan on having your kids play sports and how young would you start them?
Did you play sports year round and do you have aches and pains as well?

I really want to know.

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bunky153 said...

This thought came to me several years ago, when I was watching my then 28 yr. old son get ready to play city league basketball. He had been heavily involved in sports since the age of 10, with many injuries during those years. By the time he got out on the court he looked like Robocop with all his knee & ankle braces, not to mention some contraption on an elbow. My other kids are in the same situation. They all like to be active, but are now limited in what they can do, due to previous injuries. If I knew then what I know now, I would have encouraged art, music and no 'team' like sports!!

GreenGirl said...

I agree 100%. As a kids, it was one sport a season (except the winter...I "needed to focus on school" and my parents thought if sports was entitled a "Season" so did academics....not to mention they were paying a small fortune for it). I see all these camps and everything and I wonder who it is for. I do think that learning how to play on a team is so important for development and getting a child to have a passion is so important...to have an outlet it crucial for development...
B and I used to disagree on this topic. I was so anti-contact sports for kids (especially after seeing the brain injuries like Lou Geirics(sp)). He played soccer and that was his passion truly...but honestly, hitting a ball on your head really doesn't seem safe for a kid and their brain development if you ask me...
I've had concusions from sports injuries myself (softball)...but I swam, did volleyball, softball, and tennis (ironically, the last one was the one that was dangerous...for my opponents...I used to throw my racket...don't ask...not a fine moment for my parents in high school...was kicked off the team for "un-Mercy-like behavior"...still claiming not my fault! :))
Let's reconviene when you and I both have kids and see how we feel! :)

The Blogivers said...

Davis will be playing football, basketball, and soccer this fall. Too soon...?

Tabitha Lynn said...

I've never thought about this. I don't have kids and the mister played sports from like 3-4 on and now he's always hurt. He only plays soccer now but loves it so much I think he'll play until he literally can't. I grew up dancing and now run, but I'm pretty lucky I've never broken, sprained, or torn anything. So I'll be as active as I can as long as I can. Now that I admit it I'll probably hurt myself lol.


Kris said...

I'm not sure if I am going to have kids but I do think sports are important for them. Not sure when they would start. I think I started soccer at 8... maybe 10. I think there's more to it than just the physical. Learning to work with a team, responsibility and so on. I think parents who over work their kids and have them playing all different crazy sports until they are hurting at the end of practice is another story all together!

Jossie said...

I agree with you.....to a point. Tyler started playing t-ball at 3 and then soccer and now we are trying basketball (he's 5). For him, he has SO much energy that we needed to find a way to channel it (rather than playing video games, ick!). Plus, then he is learning to take direction from someone other than his teachers and parents.

Luckily the youth sports here are very laid back. Sure, I think part of it is because Karl and I were both very athletic and would love to see our kids excel in something like that. However, for us, we're trying lots of different things with him so that he can decide what HE would like to do, rather than way WE would like him to do. We'll also be trying piano lessons as well....I truly think that music is super important.

Obviously you know that I have played sports almost my entire life (dance since 3, t-ball, basketball, volleyball, softball) and the only lingering injury I have is in my shoulder. I feel fortunate that is all I have since I was so active.

I think that it's important for children to be exposed to lots of different things so that they can decide what they would like to do. If I could do back in time, I would have followed my passion would only have played volleyball and softball (I only played basketball because so many people encouraged me to do it). That way I could have really developed those skills and maybe played one of them in college.

So, there is my soapbox on this topic. We will be starting Naiya in dance probably at 3 or 4. I might be in the minority on these but I think one of the things that they get from these types of activities is social development and how to work with lots of different kinds of challenges and other people :-)

Sam {fitnessfoodandfaith.blogspot.com} said...

i totally agree with limiting it. it's hard to find that balance between encouraging healthy behavoir and obsessing over it. i think one sport a year is good!

Sam @ fitness food & faith

meghan said...

That's an interesting question. A few kids at my school do triathlons, and it makes me question how much is too much. I see categories in half marathons for young kids, and that's what really makes me wonder. I don't have an opinion because it's something I just started thinking about too...

Laura Elizabeth said...

Hmm, I don't know. I think sports are so great, my school only had the option of doing one a season so it wasn't like I was overloaded with sports like it seems you were. I love the lessons you learn as being part of a team.

My dad did a lot of long distance running and that was kind of my thing too. He used to do the running club at my school and would limit who could run what based on age.

Natalie said...

I'm with ya girl. My parents didn't really push sports on us until we were in middle school, and even that didn't last too long since neither one of us is sporty. I workout now a few times a week, but I'm not into really playing sports. I just kinda cringe when I see parents yelling at their young kids over a game or something. I think it's all right if it's seen just as a game, but many parents put too much stock in it. Like they're vicariously reliving their glory days through their five year olds.

debjones:) said...

A lot of comments on this one! I live in an area where sports seems to be very important from pre-k on up through college. You should see how fanatical people are here when it comes to college sports!!
I have to say though - something Rick and I have thought about a lot is not only the affect playing sports at an early age has on an older body, but the affects of working at a young age (my first job I was 14 yrs old) and working a strenuous job at an early age, (Rick's first job was at a pig farm in Oklahoma at the young, tender age of 12-13!) I think back on some of my jobs I've had when I was younger and sometimes it amazes me I can get around as well as I do! Rick is just literally falling apart though - between early stages of arthritis, his back injury from '99 and still trying to work like he's 19 instead of the 43 years of age that he is! Face it - we can't expect to keep up like we once did, but I can encourage my kids to be a little more sensible about the jobs they take, and I already have in mind to try and hold off on Maddy getting a job for as long as possible! Oh! And my ever-heedful reminders on the way they lift a heavy sack or box or anything for that matter!! ;)


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