Jessica Statsky, the author of “Children Need to Play, Not Compete”, discusses the impact of competitive sports on the physical, mental, and psychological development of young children who are aged between 6 and 12 years. The author’s purpose is to focuse on the assertion that highly organized sports isolate young children from enjoying sport activities. Often, children participate in sports in order to have fun, learn, and associate with friends. According to the article, organized sports often emphasize on the issue of winning and losing thereby making it inappropriate for the children.
Competitive sports have a number of negative effects on children. First, competitive sports expose young children to physical harm. For example, a 12-year-old child might experience strain on his/her arm or shoulders in an attempt to throw a curve ball. In addition, contact sports such as football are often dangerous. This is because in tackle football, the nature of concern is self-preservation. Children further experience the impact of competitive sports because they develop anxiety and the fear of being hurt. This is attributed to the fact that kids get scared and withdraw from sports without giving reasons. At the same time, organized sports are highly selective and counterproductive thereby making competitive sports unfit for children. Statsky states that organized sports such as Little League Baseball and Peewee Football are games played according to the adult standards. Such standards are developmentally inappropriate for children. Competitive sports are also not appropriate since only few children get to participate in the sports, because many are edged out. Moreover, those edged out often do not realize full development of talents and skills either as expected or as they would wish regarding a specific sport. Competitive sports further lead to disapproval from the significant others such as coaches and parents. The adults have standards of league standing, scorekeeping, the drive to win, and plenty of horror stories. Therefore, the author concludes that young children should have sports programmes designed specifically for their needs and abilities.
Jessica Statsky’s assertion that there ought to be a change regarding the approaches to children and sport activities is justified. Children’s involvement in sports is an outgrowth of their inherent and natural tendency to play. In most cases, children can take hours to play disregarding the outcome of such activities. This includes informal running, throwing, and kicking of balls. It occurs in the backyards, side streets, playgrounds, parks, and sandlots. Moreover, informal children’s game proceeds as long as the interest in the game is maintained. Such spontaneous activities encourage social inclusion. However, as the kids grow older, they tend to loss intrinsic interest to playing games; instead, sports activities replace child plays. Such activities have regular practice, coaches, and a competitive schedule. In this case, fierce and sometimes deep rooted competition is emphasized among teams and individuals. Some embark on a career in elite sport whose goal is to participate in national and international sports. However, others experience the disappointment of early failure in sports career development. Children between the age of 6 and 12 are inclined to socially compare themselves with their peers. Their perception of physical, social, and cognitive capabilities is interpreted in relation to their peers.
The operation of sports programmes can either have positive or negative effects on the children’s physical, psychological, and social wellbeing. The assessment of how the involvement of expectations of coaches, the demands of parents, and the reinforcement and punishment are incorporated into organized sports is of particular concern. Many professionals, youth groups, and advocacy groups agree to the fact that sports activities among the youth are often confronted by challenges. Therefore, recommendations about reforms aimed at establishing a healthy environment that is in line with the needs of the children so that they can maximize on sports opportunities.
Statsky’s asserts that overly competitive sports place children into physical activities that are harmful for their physical growth. Physical harm of young children may lead to lengthy recovery periods and long-term health consequences. Moreover, the participation in physical activities can bring social and physical benefits concerning the safety of children’s participation in sports activities. Furthermore, parents have been concerned that the environment is unsafe for children thus preferring sports activities to coaches. Young athletes are vulnerable to excessive injuries and long-term health consequences. Children have anatomic structures that are different from those of adults. The children’s bones are weaker than the adult’s tendons and ligaments. A direct impact of sports injuries is observed especially due to the increase in family burden and medical costs that result from injuries during sports.
Organized sports isolate the children from their goals in indulging in games. These goals are mainly having fun, learning, and spending time with friends. The children’s games are unstructured, spontaneous, and without the involvement of adults. Such style of play enables the participants to develop motor skills, creativity, social skills, and enjoyment of participants. The intervention of the adults offers benefits of supervision, coaching, safety rules, and appropriate equipment. However, it creates expectations and demands that exceed the capabilities and readiness of children. In addition, the aspects of organization may also shift the purpose of the sports to goals that are not necessarily children-oriented. However, the expectations of a certain sport go beyond physical and cognitive development that may lead to frustration and fear among the children. Moreover, not all coaches have the capacity to address the specific needs of the children. Some youth sports coaches are volunteers who have no formal training related to children development needs. All-star teams, tournaments, and awards are by-products of the demands of adults concerning sports among young children.
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