Let Them Play
- Pages: 11
- Word count: 2549
- Category: Sportsmanship
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What are your fondest memories playing as a young child? Some of us will remember chasing after a soccer ball or throwing a football across the yard. Others may remember jumping up and down erupting with glee while pretending to be a cheerleader or hitting a basebaall across the neighbor’s fence with an aluminum bat. However, a few might not remember playing outside or participating in any sports at all because their parents were engulfed with fear of them getting hurt; therefore, they ended up staying indoors slowly morphing into hermit crabs dragging their hard shells that fully protected them from the outside world filled with risks. This unfortunate memory is becoming more apparent with children growing up in the modern world. Because parents are being driven by fear and anxiety fueled by many overstated insidious aspects of sports, that they rather steer their children away from playing them at all and prefer to keep them indoors. Although, there may be some truth to it because sports do pose potential risks for injuries to an extent of possible death; however, looking at the big picture everything around us is a potential risk for injury and even death. I could step outside my doorstep and trip over a rock then plunge down to the concrete and smash my face or simply choke on my own saliva. With this in mind, parents need to stop being afraid and let their children play sports – even if they might be dangerous because they are essential for children to maintain a healthy lifestyle, learn valuable skills, and most importantly, sports unplug them from their electronic devices.
Growing up, children need to be constantly stimulated with physical activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle; therefore, sports are highly instrumental in children’s overall development. However, statistics reveal the grim reality of children and adolescent’s health. According to data collected by, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state that “In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. Data from 2015-2016 show that nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity.” (par.1). Given that, children and adolescents who suffer from obesity are obviously lacking in physical activity and a healthy diet which inevitably leads to immediate and long-term effects on their physical, social, and emotional health. Given that, some of the physical effects that obesity and inactivity may cause are, high blood pressure and cholesterol, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, such as asthma and sleep apnea, and joint and musculoskeletal problems. As for social and emotional effects, obesity may lead to low self-esteem, social anxiety, bullying, discrimination, and even tormenting. Nevertheless, the appalling statistics on children and adolescent obesity can be reversed by incorporating sports into their daily lives. Because sports provide countless health benefits for children and adolescents such as, developing stronger muscles and bones, keeping them active by exercising, and improving their cardiovascular endurance which helps decrease their risk for heart disease among the many benefits that playing sports provide. Therefore, if their child’s health is the number one concern for parents, then they should allow them to play sports in order for their children to develop a healthy lifestyle that will evidently make them grow into healthy active adults.
Despite the disturbing increase in obesity rates among children and adolescents, some parents are still not convinced how sports are a benefit and not a threat, so they remain against allowing their children to play sports. Perhaps, the sports injury statistics have served as a catalyst for parent’s induced paranoia, fear, and anxiety towards sports. Because according to Stanford Children’s Health, the sports injury statistics showed that not only, “More than 3.5 million children ages 14 and younger get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities.” (par.5)., but also, “More than 775,000 children, ages 14 and younger, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year.” (par.9). Due to the unfathomable sports injuries statistics, some parents prefer to avoid the trip to the emergency room and just keep their children safe indoors and away from any potential harm. Nonetheless, their perspective is completely understandable because as a parent, my number one priority is to keep my daughters safe. However, by intervening and not allowing our children to play sports, we could be depriving them of something that is essential for them to live long and healthy lives. Nevertheless, apart from a healthy lifestyle, sports teach children valuable skills that they are unable to learn while being stuck indoors. Sports have the capacity to not only teach children social skills by allowing them to spend more time with their friends in a safe environment while getting much needed physical activity, but also, teaches them communication and problem- solving skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. Given that, the social skills learned through sports are able to help kids who struggle with social anxiety or have a hard time making friends simply because they get to meet and interact with other children their age, and within time they end up breaking out of their comfort zone. Additionally, sports help children learn the basics of competition and sportsmanship by teaching them how to cope with either losing or winning a game. Because without a doubt nobody likes to lose, and there are children who particularly do not know how to lose and end up getting mad or throwing a tantrum, but when playing in an organized sport, children are taught how to enjoy a win and how to persevere after a loss. Last but not least, children are able to learn leadership skills that range from building character to respecting others while being task oriented and accomplishing their goals.
Leadership skills are essential for children growing up, especially when they become young adults considering they need to develop the ability to make executive decisions within their jobs or personal life. Nonetheless, the author, Jeb Golinkin, supports my perspective and reaffirms the true beauty of sports in his essay, “Why Parents Should Let Their Kids Play Dangerous Sports”.
He emphasizes that “Between the lines, our children learn the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, toughness, and competitiveness. Between the lines, our children learn to strive, to succeed, and, most importantly, how to fail.” (Golinkin 618). Given that, it is important for children and adolescents to play sports in order for them to not only, take advantage and gain all the skills that they provide, but also, put them to use in different aspects of their lives and become successful and responsible adults.
In contrast, some opposing parents might argue how can their children enjoy playing sports and gain new skills when they are suffering concussions by being pummeled to the ground like a sack of potatoes. In fact, the three leading high impact sports: football, hockey, and soccer have become a major concern for parents considering they are the most dangerous among other sports and they lead to a vast number of concussions. Under those circumstances the opposing parents do not feel comfortable allowing their children to play a sport they will not be able to remember after countless concussions. To make it worst, a research study conducted by Boston University School of Medicine revealed a spine-chilling link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a progressive and degenerative brain disease that is usually seen in people who have sustained multiple head injuries and potentially causes behavioral problems, dementia, depression, and Alzheimer. The study found “CTE in 99 percent of brains obtained from National Football League (NFL) players, as well at 91percent of college football players and 21 percent of high school football players.” (par.1). The unfortunate truth revealed by the study confirmed that many football players had been suffering from CTE due to repeated concussions and head injuries; therefore, the countless concerns that the opposing parent’s had about the risks of concussions had been strengthened.
To add insult to injury, the lawsuit that over 2,000 retired NFL players filed against the NFL in June 2012, became an eye opener for many parents, but unfortunately shamed sports.
According to the case, “The National Football League and Brain Injuries” developed by Professor Richard G. Hamermesh and Case Researcher Matthew G. Preble, the lawsuit claimed far worse than imagined. The lawsuit alleged, that the NFL was aware of the risks associated with repetitive brain injuries, but deliberately concealed the information from football players at all levels and even the Plaintiffs. (Hamermesh and Preble 2015). With this in mind, ever since the true dangers and consequences of head injuries have been uncovered by the lawsuit and findings, parents now believe they have a good reason to fear sports.
Although, the risks associated with playing sports have been enough to persuade some parents into believing sports are too dangerous for children and adolescents to play, it is just completely unethical for them to live in fear and prefer to have their kids stay indoors plugged into their electronic devices. In this advanced and innovative world, technology has occupied part of everyone’s daily lives and just about everyone has a smartphone, tablet, computer, and let’s not forget the gaming consoles. Therefore, children and adolescents who are stuck indoors because of their overprotective parents are sitting in front of their televisions playing video games for hours or have their heads hunched down staring at their devices without even blinking.
Some parents argue that electronic devices have simplified everyone’s lives and are the greatest inventions ever created, but is that really true? Is watching your child play violent video games for unending hours a day really that great? Is watching your adolescent being sucked into the stressful social media expectations through their phones really that great? The author Daniel J.Flynn, acknowledges my same concern on his essay, “Football Does a Body Good (Nannyism Doesn’t)” where he states, “One rarely sees neighborhood kids in pickup football games anymore. They’re too busy playing video games, text messaging, and friending strangers on Facebook.” (Flynn 623). It is really sad how kids have replaced the true meaning of having fun through sports and actually playing outside with electronic devices that make them live in their virtual reality worlds that do not exist.
Children and adolescents who do not play sports are losing themselves in their electronic devices, and are unknowingly harming themselves more than sports ever would. The consequences of playing the trendy, but violent video games can impact children in negative ways by increasing their risks of being categorized in disorderly conduct in school because of their impulse behavior or their inability to concentrate. According to a research study, “Effect of Video and Mobile Games on Children’s Behavior” led by Dr. Pankaj Singh determined that, “Children who play more video, and mobile games are more likely to have increased anxiety, communication problem, psychomotor activity, conduct disorder/disruptive behavior, social skills, attention and hyperactive behavior, aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and decreased prosocial helping.” (par.1). The research study reaffirmed my view and concluded that video games are indeed harmful to children not only mentally and socially, but also, physically.
Nonetheless, video games are not the only culprit for the burden that children and adolescents have to bear with every day while being stuck indoors and not playing sports. Social media has become the main influence mainly for adolescents, and trying to keep up with it has created the perfect mixture for horrific results. Adolescents who are constantly on their electronic devices are exposed to numerous social media outlets where they believe they can find their identity by posting pictures and creating a flawless façade where they can mask their despair. However, everything has an opposing side, and when push comes to shove, and they are criticized or disliked by cyber bullies, the nightmare begins. They are thrown into a spiraling world of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and this forms the perfect concoction for suicide.
Therefore, just as the link with football and CTE was confirmed, the link between social media and suicide rates have become more apparent and it is impossible to be ignored. As a matter of fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), conducted a study that strengthened the correlation between social media and suicide among adolescents. The study “found that with increase usage of social media, there’s an increase of teenagers who are more likely to commit suicide. Suicide is the third largest cause of death for youth between the ages 10-24.” (par.1). Given that, the facts stated above are really an eye-opener for parents who believe that their children and adolescents are better off indoors and safe from any injuries that sports may pose, but actually, they are far worse and are being ripped apart by social media and violently influenced by video games. Moreover, the suicide statistics provided by the CDC show that every day there are approximately 12 youth suicides and if multiplied by 365 days a year, they total up to 4,380 deaths, so compared with the statistics of sports-related injuries/deaths which show only 39 youth deaths in 2011, it is clear to see where the real danger lingers.
In essence, parents need to change their perspective about sports and realize how they are fundamentally good for their children. Because sports have existed since mankind roamed the land and justs because of the potential risks that they may pose, it is not fair for sports to be shamed or forbidden from their children. If sports were that dangerous, we would not have the Olympics or the Super-Bowl every year. You see, just like technology is part of our lives, sports are also part of our lives because they provide a sense of belonging to a team, they give us Sunday football conversations with our neighbors, they give us tail-gate parties, and we proudly paint our faces with our team’s colors. All of this would be impossible if sports did not exist and were removed just because of a couple injuries. All this considered, parents need to dissolve their induced paranoia, fear, and anxiety, and look at the benefits that far outweigh the risks of playing sports, and should simply just let them play.