July 8, 2017

When it comes to kid sports, I have to say that I am completely torn on this one.  And before the die hard baseball moms get offended, I want to say that I 100% believe that sports are good for kids. But, I think we can all agree that this era of ultra competitive, traveling sports is nothing like the sports experience that we had as kids.

Kids Sports: The Pros (Not the Major Leagues)

I’m talking about the benefits that kids get from playing sports.  There are a bunch of them and The Aspen Play Project does a great job of explaining all of the benefits which include:

  • Obvious health benefits (lower blood pressure, lower risk of diabetes, general health)]
  • Promote active lifestyle as an adult
  • Helps with cognitive skills and brain development
  • Increases likelihood that your child will attend college
  • Social skills and friendships
  • Reduces risk of drug use, pregnancy and depression
  • Assists with goal setting and feeling of accomplishment

 

Yep, those are are excellent reasons to celebrate sports. I personally think the benefits outweigh the risks.

But, I am concerned about the risks;

Kids Sports: The Cons (They do exist)

Okay, so it’s going to be expensive.  I get that.  It’s not fair, really because some families just truly can not afford to  have their children participate in sports because of the cost involved.

But, my biggest concern about kids sports right now is the schedule.

From 5 day a week practice to 3 games a day weekends to every weekend traveling tournaments, I am very concerned that the schedule of kids athletics has gotten a little too crazy.  And, I’m not the only one.  This article from the New York Post highlights the dangers of overtraining, overplaying and overspecializing in sports

But the largest cause is young athletes specializing in one sport at an earlier age. Instead of playing lacrosse, basketball and football, they are opting to stick with just one, and it’s taking a toll on their bodies.”

This increased risk for serious injuries in middle school that were previously not seen until college or beyond is a huge concern.  Couple that with this article from Changing the Game that cites research that 70% of kids are quitting sports all together by age 13!   Before high school, kids are tired of playing sports!

Kids Sports: What Kids Want Parents To Know

It all starts out fun! Kids just love playing.  Parents can’t stop them from practicing. I’ve met the kids who sleep, eat and breathe baseball.  To take that away from them would be devastating.  But, I’ve also met the kids who are having anxiety attacks about their performance and the ones who are coming to therapy stressed about maintaining a good GPA and keeping up with practices and games.

Kids share what they wish parents understood about sports in this video:

 

Final Thoughts:

It’s time for us parents to find the balance.   Experts recommend that your children play a variety of sports, that you limit the time that that they practice and make sure that they have some time to enjoy other activities. If you are looking for alternative playtime activities, be sure to check out this great guide from momlovesbest.com .

Let’s work together to make sure that these athletes continue to play sports throughout HIGH SCHOOL and that they are healthy enough to do it throughout their life.

About the Author

Jen Taylor, LCSW-C, RPT-S is an EMDR Approved Consultant and Certified Journal to the Self Instructor.  She is a therapist specializing in complex trauma, an international play therapy teacher and a published writer of multiple play therapy chapters.  Jen is the creator of the original 2017 Play Therapy Summit and many other innovative programs for mental health professionals.  Jen uses writing therapy, play therapy and expressive arts for her clients and for other mental health professionals so they can lead more joyful and meaningful lives.  Jen encourages people to try new things and create daily habits that allow for incremental progress towards previously unimaginable results.   Jen is a travel enthusiast, an avid reader, and a girl who lifts weights and runs for fun.  

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