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Emphasis on athletics is taking a toll on children

Excessive attention on athletics causes mental and physical stress

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Emphasis on athletics is taking a toll on children

Avery Liby, JAG index editor and academics editor

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After the announcement of a snow day on Monday, Nov. 26, like most students I made plans with a friend. Later in our day off, she said that she had to go home because she had basketball practice at the school. The fact that school was canceled, yet athletic practices weren’t, seemed to confirm an opinion I have: there is too much emphasis put on sports. This emphasis results in students being steered away from other beneficial activities.

Many people see professional athletes as the epitome of success and spend their childhood working to this goal. This can take a toll on children mentally and physically. According to a study by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, almost half of all sports injuries to middle and high school students were caused by overuse. By the time these children get into their thirties, or possibly earlier, they will be dealing with serious pain from their time training.

The pressure to become a successful athlete has resulted in the formation of clubs and children specializing in sports, ruining the inclusiveness that athletics once provided. This has resulted in the focus being taken away from teaching children valuable lessons and shifted towards winning. During my time as an athlete, while trying out for club volleyball teams, I witnessed parents bribing coaches. They would do this to get their children to the spot that the parents believed their child deserved, without their child working for it. This goes against the intended purpose of sports: to teach the value of hard work.

Often parents wrap up their own identity in their child’s athletics and won’t let them quit. Even when the sport is no longer fun and it is simply stressful, many adults push their child to continue. While the parent may see this as a lesson in perseverance I have seen many of my friends have breakdowns because of being trapped in a sport and they simply could not handle doing anymore. When children continue the sport and eventually retire they may not know how to cope with daily problems like anger and frustration in a healthy way without competing.

Many people cite sports as a way to learn perseverance, hard work and discipline, yet they ignore the fact that these traits can be acquired in many different ways. I work to attain these qualities by challenging myself academically and by getting involved with activities at school. I have learned much more through these activities than I did on the court.

Sports are not always bad. For many children, they are beneficial. However, when parents put too much pressure on their children to compete, it causes more harm than good. By participating in clubs and activities students can learn the same valuable lesson that sports are credited with teaching, without the drawback of getting injured or some of the pressures put on them by adults.

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