Athletics tend to be a major component of American culture. It has become common for parents to push their children to be great in sports. Americans tend to focus on the word “push. ” Saying parents should push their children to play sports implies force; therefore, parents should encourage their child to play sports or participate in an extra-curricular activity. For many years, America has been considered an obese nation. Efforts to lower the obesity level have been made such as increasing pay on unhealthy foods and decreasing serving sizes nationwide.
In a world where “obesity has increased by more than 50% among America’s children and teens since 1976,” rather than drastically change what is being eaten, children should be encouraged to play sports in attempt to develop a healthy lifestyle and establish healthy habits for a lifetime (“Benefits of Youth Sports” para. 1). Twenty-first century kids spend a lot of time watching television or playing video games, but getting up and being active is a great way to have healthy bones, build muscle, control weight, and decrease fat stores (“Facts” para. ).
Not only do the benefits of being physically active show in adolescence, but the same benefits carry into adulthood. In addition to the physical benefits, allowing children to play sports at a young age can provide numerous psychological and social benefits. Being on a team gives kids a sense of belonging and opens them up to something bigger than themselves. The kids are required to interact with other kids, their coaches, and the officials; the interaction allows for the children to learn communication skills.
Being part of a time puts many people with the same goal in one place. Kids who play sports learn accept wins and losses and “the value of group effort is reinforced every day” (“Why Parents Should Push Their Kids to Play Team Sports” para. 8). Not only does being a part of a sports team encourage teamwork, it teaches dealing with adversity and time management, develops talents and the ability to handle success and failure, provides leadership opportunities and stress relief, and builds self-esteem and self-respect (“Benefits of Youth Sports”).
Many studies have been conducted that prove sports at a young age can positively benefit children. In a recent study, of the students who were physically active at least six days per week “25. 1% feld (sic) sad for two weeks or more in the past 12 months,” while students who were physically active, at most, one day per week felt sad 35. 7% felt sad for two weeks or more in the previous year (“Facts” para. 10). The psychological and social benefits to providing children with the opportunity to play a sport are to important to be ignored.
Playing sports as a child has benefits just as important as physical, psychological, and social. Numerous studies show that people who begin to play sports at a young age see educational and employment benefits: “Physical activity is associated with improved academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores. . . can affect cognitive skills, attitudes and academic behavior, including enhanced concentration, attention, and improved classroom behavior (“Facts” para. 7).
A recent study shows that people who go on to participate in high school athletics will most likely go on to post-secondary school and earn a degree; athletes higher in rank, such as captains and most valuable player, have high rates of success in their studies (“Facts” para. 8). Not only do these athletes see major benefits in early education and college, but the benefits translate to their place of employment. Behavioral science professor at Cornell University, Kevin Kniffin, conducted a study on kids who play sports in high school.
His study found that the kids who did participate in high school athletics made better employees; the former athletes are said to be favored by job interviewers, “whether or not the interviewer was an athlete” (“Why Parents Should Push Their Kids to Play Team Sports” para. 14). In addition to Kniffin’s study, a survey was taken of four-hundred female executives to determine whether or not playing sports aided them in their career. Of the ninety-four percent that said they played a sport, sixty-one percent of them believe athletics has aided them in their success (“Facts” para. ). According to the studies, athletics aid in future employment. If not to receive short-term benefits, children should play sports to help in future. Many parents do not believe their child should play sports at a young age, especially when the word “push” is applied. Regardless of proven benefits when children play sports, parents still seem to think otherwise.
Many people believe having children play sports at a young age can lead to self-esteem issues, resentment, and burnout. According to Baldwin Ellis, writer for Livestrong. om, many parents fail to realize their child’s talent level, blinding them from the truth that is their child is not gifted in sports. Not fully realizing, the parents push harder and subject their child to embarrassment, resulting in self-esteem issues. The self-esteem issues can easily result in resentment from the child due to constant pressure, especially if the parent chooses to ignore the child’s wishes (Ellis para 2+). Finally, is the occurrence of burnout. Often times parents push their children too hard and try to be involved in every sport there is.
The overload of activities can cause a burnout in their child meaning the child becomes stressed and no longer enjoys the activities. According to Alvin Rosenfeld, a child psychiatrist, overscheduling children is a nationwide problem and has become a way to parent (Elkins 64-70). Rather than pushing their children to participate in sports, parents should encourage. Encouraging allows the child to decide for themselves what sport they want to play, to try out different sports, or to decide sports are not for them. If sports are not for them, there are many other things they can be involved in such as music and the arts.
However, with the proven benefits, children should be strongly encouraged, in a healthy way, to participate in sports. Athletics is a major part of American society and often times parents feel the need to push their child to participate in athletics. This “push” can be detrimental to the well-being of these children. It is imperative to the health of the children, presently and in the future, that they be strongly encouraged to participate in a sport or extra-curricular activity that will benefit them short and long-term.