In the USA:
Of all the people over 18 years of age, 33.8% are obese. For 2-19 year olds, that obesity rate is 17%. (CDC Trends); About 3.5 million children each year suffer from sports-related injuries; a little over half of those injuries are overuse injuries. (Sports Injuries)
Most parents use sports practices as a type of babysitting (okay, this is based on personal observation and there’s no statistical data to support my observations; however, I consider myself a socialpsychologist…meaning that I ‘stalk’ people’s behaviors and like to gather evidence before making points) and most do not take safety precautions for practices as they do during a game; 62% of sports injuries occur during practice, not games. (see Sports Injuries link above)
Coaches, special trainers and those selling services to make your children better at the ‘sport that will get them a college scholarship and make them big bucks’ often strongly advise against letting the child play a sport other than their specialization; 28% of american-football players, 25% of baseball players, 22% of football players, 15% of basketball players and 12% of softball players get injured playing their specialized sport. (see Sports Injuries link) Also again, please see the overuse injury rate.
Tommy John surgery, where the UCL is repaired due to over-throwing, has increased. There are not national stats kept on this, but:” “I would say over the last five to seven years, (the rate) has doubled,” said David Lintner, an orthopedic sports medicine specialist who is Eovaldi’s doctor and also serves as the Astros’ team medical director. “And it goes up steadily every year.” Dr. James Andrews, one of the nation’s most respected orthopedic surgeons, has also seen a spike in the number of high school pitchers he has performed the procedure on. In a three-year span from 1996-99, Andrews performed Tommy John surgery on 164 pitchers, 19 of whom were high school aged or younger. From 2004-07, that number had jumped to 588 pitchers, 146 of whom were high school or youth league players — a seven-fold increase. Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/5719377.html#ixzz1V5bDAeWq ”
ACL injuries, which most people associate with american-football, are staggering for our girls. While the ACL injuries obtained in american-football are often the result of odd contact—being crushed by a linebacker for instance—females get non-contact ACL injuries, often during a change of direction and/or speed, or upon landing from a jump. Most of these injuries occur on the basketball court and football pitch. Alarmingly, the rate of ACL injuries for females are 3-6 times higher than they are for male athletes (ACL Injuries in Females). Even more alarming: The age of the ACL surgery recipient is getting younger and younger, with some girls receiving their first surgery at age 14. Because the success rate of the surgery is so high, athletes go on to play again the next year. Girls who have blown an ACL are more likely to either blow it again, or to blow the other one. Multiple surgeries are typical.
I’m not even touching on concussions.
The point is, we are a nation of expanding waistlines, and ever-increasing youth sports injuries. The extremes are just that—too extreme. It seems our children are either sitting on their arses too much while snacking on too much JUNK food; or, they are playing the same sport for too long, and too often.
Moderation is important!
There is NO need for your child to ‘specialize’ in a sport before the age of 12. Too much training in one sport will not guarantee your child a scholarship in college (MOST scholarship funds are academic) and is more likely to guarantee them an overuse injury.
Free play is just as important as structured play. Pick-up games with neighborhood friends, mash-up games of various sports—they’re good for your child physically, mentally, and socially.
There are NUMEROUS sports for kids to play. Don’t make the mistake of forcing your child to play the sport you wish you had gotten the chance to play, or the sport you love the most, and certainly don’t force a child into a sport they loathe (they will only come to resent you for making them do it).
Just like with you, how cleaning the house counts as physical activity, your child can become more active without being forced into the same organized sports over and over again. And now look, I am not saying DON’T enroll your child in organized sports, they’re not all evil, scary and injury-producing.
However, again from personal experience as youth coach, just because your child goes to a practice doesn’t mean that they are physically exerting any energy above a walk.
Just as you won’t stick to an exercise routine unless you enjoy the activity, it is the same for your child. Help fight the child obesity epidemic, and fight the youth overuse injury trend, too. Teach your children the importance of balance, and enjoying life by enjoying activities that nourish the body, mind, and spirit.