In recent decades, the importance of organized sports for children is increasing at a tremendous rate. Many elementary school teachers have tried more than one approach to train and foster students to join various organized sport competitions. Different people have their own opinions on the effects of organized sports towards children. This paper will demonstrate that children’s participation in organized sports improves their mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing contrary to what some authors have stated. The paper finds that opinions provided to support the argument that organized sport competitions have negative effects on children are weak and may not apply to all children.
In her article “Children Need to Play, Not Compete”, Jessica Statsky states that organized sports are bad for children whose age ranges from six to twelve years. This, she argues, is because adult standards are applied on children’s sports. According to Statsky, these standards are too high for children hence they bear negative effects on children. However, this opinion is based on isolated cases that cannot be trusted to offer a binding opinion on the subject.
Statsky claims that organized sports are bad for children as they are enticed into physical actions, and this affects their body growth. However, her example to this claim is too weak and extreme to support her claim. She gives an example of Leonard Koppett in ‘Sports Illusion and Sports Reality’. Statsky states that “a twelve-year-old trying to throw a curved ball, for example, may put an abnormal strain on developing arm and shoulder muscles, sometimes resulting in lifelong injuries.” However, his example represents the experience of a single child in organized sport competitions and cannot be qualified as a standard-bearer for all children. It should be taken as an isolated case rather than the norm. Not all the children will get hurt when playing the organized sports.
Moreover, even if children get hurt from playing sports, this is expected. Injuries occur in any game and to mitigate the effects thereof, medical service is availed, which ensures that injuries are treated promptly. Sports aid growth in children as playing sports improves bone development and maintains a healthy body. Therefore, Statsky’s example is too weak to support her argument as it exaggerates the incidences of injuries and neglects the benefits children draw from participating in sport competitions.
In addition, Statsky argues that fear of being hurt will lower children’s enjoyment towards sports which can be challenged on the basis that it is supported by insufficient evidence. For example, she uses a speech of one mother of an eight-year-old peewee football player to support the idea that children who get hurt in sports are scared and thereafter develop cold feet towards competitive sports. This example is rather personal and therefore unfit to be used in passing judgment on other children. It has been observed that some children think that they gain something if they get pain. They may feel great as getting pain gives them a chance to learn how to face the problem in a positive way by themselves. In this example, Statsky had neglected the feeling of some brave children.
Furthermore, Statsky states that children who engage in organized sport competitions are at risk of psychological problems. To support this idea, Statsky quotes an opinion of the writer in the New York Times who states that “in all his years of watching young children play organized sports, he has noticed very few of them smiling.” This argument lacks legitimacy because it is impossible for people to read other people’s mind through observation alone. Different people respond differently to the same stimuli based on their temperament. The non-smiling faces of children do not mean that they are not happy or uninterested when they participate in organized sports. Statsky’s arguments against children’s participation in sports are based on hasty generalizations that are too weak to sustain his argument. The experience of one child is generalized on others without considering the uniqueness of each child and his/her individuality. It is therefore correctly arguable that organized sport competitions are good for children and do contribute positively to the growth of children physically and mentally.
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