Child Athlete Edition
By Caitlyn Conville |Staff Writer
Children are not adults and therefore should not be receiving the same training as fully grown human beings. Not only does intense and repetitive athletic training cause lifelong physical damage, but the psychological effects can be just as severe.
According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 283,000 children aged younger than 18 were treated in emergency departments for sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries each year between 2010 and 2016.
The impact of a brain injury on a child can be far more devastating than the same injury on an adult, since children’s brains are still developing. These children can face physical cognitive and emotional impairments that they will have to endure for the rest of their lives.
Overuse injuries, which are caused by prolonged repetitive motion, are even more common and can also have long-term consequences including nerve damage, osteoarthritis and general body aches and pains. Not even Mommy can kiss away those boo-boos.
The consistent wear and tear is even leading kids to undergo surgical procedures, including ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, commonly known as Tommy John surgery. This is a surgery in which a torn ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon extracted from somewhere else in the patient’s body. In June 2015, Columbia University Medical Center discovered 57 percent of all Tommy John surgeries were performed on athletes aged 15 to 19.
Athletes that young should not be having major surgery, especially for a preventable injury. The road to recovery can be long and arduous.
Both Major League pitcher Tommy John and his son, Dr. Tommy John III, frequently campaign against the procedure that is their namesake, stating that its rise in popularity is an epidemic and that, “You don’t want this surgery, especially if you have it in your teenage years.”
The easiest way to prevent injuries is to limit how much time is spent participating and training in sports and allow for at least one day of rest for the child to recover physically and mentally. Let kids enjoy their healthy and pain-free bodies while they still have them.
Don’t forget about kids’ mental health either. The exhaustion, immense pressure to succeed and often aggressive and downright mean-spirited feedback from coaches and parents can breed several psychological and spiritual maladies.
If placed on a diet or told to focus on weight management, children as young as five could develop an eating disorder. Underweight and depressed is not a healthy condition for anyone, let alone a child.
Even athletic superstars strongly recommend not putting all of your eggs into one basket when it comes to sports. Former University of South Carolina running back, Marcus Lattimore, invested more time into his studies while recovering from an injury after he realized that, “…this game is not going to last forever.”
Since his retirement, Lattimore has served as a community engagement ambassador at USC and hosted seminars to encourage young athletes to create a backup plan as he did. One unexpected injury can end a career in sports, and without a good education or an additional skill, a young athlete can be left feeling purposeless with a questionable future.
America could use some more athletes, considering the prevalence of childhood obesity in the country. So allow me to clarify a salient point in my argument: I’m not against children playing sports and striving to go professional in general. I’m against children putting themselves and their futures at risk because of sports.
Sports should be played recreationally, in a safe, stress-free environment with friends their age.
By Noah Sanchez | Staff Writer
What do you believe brings kids together? In 2019, some would say that social media is the glue that keeps the younger generation together. Others would say online gaming has allowed children to connect more than ever before.
In a society where people seem to be more comfortable having a conversation through a screen rather than in person, days of children having a real bond and connection in person are far and few between.
Unfortunately, children don’t have much motivation to do anything other than going to school, back home, and repeating the process the next day. Sports is the only deterrent to this dilemma.
While communicating through a headset or private messaging somebody through an online server may feel like the best way to get to know someone, working and bonding with someone while attempting to achieve a common goal leaves memories that will last longer than a DM ever could.
Not only does participating in sports help kids build relationships with friends, but it also allows them to feel like they belong.
Growing up in today’s society can be tough. In school, cliques begin to form and some kids become isolated from these social groups. Sports cut through these cliques and brings children together who may not have had an opportunity to interact with each other in the first place.
Being part of a sports team brings light to a child’s social world while also making the child’s life generally happier.
A study done by Springer Science in 2010 showed that boys in middle school were “five times more likely” to describe their life as fair/poor, while girls were “thirty times more likely” to describe their life as fair/poor when not involved in sports teams.
Organized sports provide an outlet for kids to express themselves while often staying in good health when doing so.
According to The University of Texas, a study revealed that the typical child in the United States becomes 75% less active between the ages of 9 and 15.This is a crucial period in a child’s life when they can be influenced by surroundings in our world, such as drugs and sex.
If more children were put into sports at this age, physical activity rates would not have declined by 32% in the last 44 years, and health care costs would not be projected to increase by 113% by the year 2030. This is also according to the study done by The University of Texas.
Participating in sports brings a certain motivation to a child’s life that may not have been there otherwise.
That motivation can serve multiple purposes whether it be wanting to achieve the highest recognition possible in that particular sport, or wanting to be able to create new friends and memories in an environment where everyone is working together.
None of this motivation would be possible if children were not playing. At a certain point, the camaraderie of your fellow teammates becomes addictive and it’s something that children never want to leave.
Kids will not only be ready for sports, but will also be eagerly awaiting the new season once one ends.
This addictive feeling will keep kids grounded and disciplined and not wanting anything to interrupt their season.
Kids will then be forced to focus on their sport while maintaining their proper academic education, ensuring that their focus is solely on positive aspects of their life and nothing else.
This helps maintain the proper balance of physical education on the field and academic education in the classroom– allowing the students to become well-rounded individuals and allowing them to succeed in whatever career path they decide to go down in the future.
There are many different elements that can influence a child’s life negatively. Sports is not one of them. Sports are an element of a child’s life that can positively affect their life, and bring them closer to their peers. Let the kids play.