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Mauricio Herrera Hackney Rhetoric 101 15 November 2013 Keep the Fun in Sports

In recent discussions of youth sports, an issue has arisen as to how intense the sports children are involved in should be. On one hand, Stephen D. Keener argues that children should be involved in competitive play. From this perspective, children should continue to play sports intensely because of the good competitive play brings. On the other hand, some argue that youth sports should not be played to the extreme that they are today. David Geier protests strenuous play, due to the risk of childhood injury. My personal belief is that sports should be played, but not to the extremes that they are currently. Although I agree that sports are beneficial to youths, the level of competition should be lowered. While some might argue that sports should continue on as they are, with no need to downplay the level of competition, I say that children should play a variety of sports with lowered levels of competition. Youth sports are ever growing, with children working and playing even harder with the idea of going pro and stardom in mind. Instead of studying, youths are practicing, shooting hoops, lifting weights, and hitting the batting cages. The parents should be to blame as well, as many athletes were pushed into sports by their parents as a means to achieve a college education through an athletic scholarship.

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Some argue that the sports teach valuable lessons, because of the competitive play. Winning and losing teaches humility and valuable life lessons, says Stephen Keener, chief executive of the Little League organization. He notes that although the levels of competition are high, the kids are still being taught valuable lessons that help on and off the field. Every summer, millions watch the Little League World Series tournaments and are reminded that there are extremely talented athletes on our fields. But more important, they see a pitcher shaking the hand of a batter he just hit with a pitch, or a third baseman giving a high five to an opposing player as he rounds the bases after a home run, says Keener. Although children should be involved in sports to learn the valuable lessons and simply the inclusion of physical activity in their everyday lives, it should not be the most important thing for them. Rather than mimicking entertainment sports culture, youth sports should be seen as a development zone with a working motto of better athletes, better people, says Jim Thompson, founder and chief executive of the Positive Coaching Alliance. The main focus of the parents should indeed be placed on the developmental benefits of the sports, not simply winning at all costs. Furthermore, the higher levels of competition cause more children to drop out of sports because of the sheer pressure put on them to win. A poll from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association states that participation in organized sports peaks at age 11. After that, the participation in sports of children drops drastically. Mark Hyman, an assistant professor at George Washington University writes that youths are weary of the pressure. They stop playing because they are either forced to quit because of the incessant criticism of parents and coaches, or simply because of injury. In fact, the main cause of injury in youth sports is simple overuse of the muscles and joints. David Geier of the American Orthopedic Society determines that the reason for such injuries is coaches and parents pushing children to play only one sport at

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younger and younger ages. I agree with Geier when he states that children should not be pushed to play to win at all costs, and to play a variety of sports to work different parts of the body instead of constantly making a child play catcher year after year until he has trouble standing. A main motivation for athletes to keep playing sports is the desire for a college scholarship and to make a living playing professionally. A sad reality of this is that very few make it to that level, about 1 percent of all high school athletes will, according to sociologist Earl Smith. The other 99 percent are left with aching bodies and a massive amount of disappointment. Despite this, those in favor of intense competition and dedication to one sport believe that doing it their way is more beneficial. The act of playing one sport for many years will make anyone a better athlete and certainly leave them in good health. Those who compete in the Olympics have trained all their lives to play a sport that they have a true passion for. Besides, by denying kids of vigorous practice and advanced levels of competition will not prepare them for their future in athletics. Whos to say that the ten year old boy going to the batting cages every day wont be the next Babe Ruth? The lessons learned from playing competitively are unlike any lessons learned elsewhere. They help develop our new generation with important skills like leadership, teamwork, and the importance of practice. Nevertheless, the skills and lessons can be learned through less competitive play. The lessons come from being part of a team and working together. The outcome of the game does not really matter when it comes down to it. Playing a single sport throughout life will indeed cause body injury, and may even cause some to become disgusted with the sport, instead of enjoying it and having fun; the child will see it as work and a hardship. By allowing children to play a variety of sports at lessened levels of competition, they are not only less likely to develop serious

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injuries from overuse; they receive the benefits of being on a team and the skills and lessons that come with. All kids should play sports, theres no question that being part of a team helps the development of the child, and the physical benefits are incredibly important. The issue arises when the children are subjected to a win at all costs mentality, and are pushed to play to the point of injury. The youths should indeed be able to choose the sports they want to play, when they want to, with lessened levels of competition, in order to keep sports fun and not a chore, and still give the benefits of team play.

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Works Cited Geier, David. "Give Children Variety and Time Off." Room for Debate. New York Times, 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. Hyman, Mark. "Keep Sports Fun." Room for Debate. New York Times, 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Keener, Stephen D. "Sports Teach Kids Valuable Lessons." Room for Debate. New York Times, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Smith, Earl. "A Hoop Dreams Reality Check." Room for Debate. New York Times, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. Thompson, Jim. "Parents Should Focus on The Big Picture." Room for Debate. New York Times, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.