Athletics In Elementary

This essay has a total of 1066 words and 6 pages.

Athletics in Elementary




Nearly every child, at one point or another in its young and impressionable life, has participated in athletics. Beneath the purity of athletics and recreation, however, lies an overwhelming attitude, such as the win-at-all cost coaches and overbearing parents that have turned this innocent recreational activity into a nightmarish hell for some young participants. It has left many wondering if youth athletics is a helpful or a harmful stage in a child’s life.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the greatest reward obtained by sport participation is how it enhances ones growth physically. A valid point, yes, but that cannot be the only reason. In a recent survey conducted by Sean Slade in the March 1999 addition of The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 250 families who had children in grades three through five were asked a simple question: why do you want your child playing sports as they grow up? Amazingly, the responses were three to one in favor of the mental, rather than the physical benefits that sports have to offer (Slade 1999). Parents stated that aside from building muscles and strength, athletics gives children a chance to learn about sportsmanship, teamwork, persistence, fair play, self-esteem, and above all, enjoyment. Children learn from early age that unless everyone participates and everyone succeeds, the ultimate goal cannot be reached.

Children get a chance to emulate heroes like Jordan, McGwire, and Gretzky every time they step onto their respective of field of play. Maureen Weiss, Ph.D., of the University of Oregon, also agrees that sports do more than enhance motor-skills. Said Weiss; “Physical activity and sports have tremendous potential to enhance children’s self-esteem and motivation.” Weiss’s research consistently proves that self-esteem and perceptions of physical ability can predict achievement behavior, motivations and positive effects (APA 1996). Ronald M. Jeziorski, an educational psychologist who consults curricular programs in Santa Clara, California, also sees the positive effect sports has on a child’s psychological well being. Jeziorski surveyed eighteen professionals in social work, law enforcement, and education on the effect of sports. “Across the board”, said Jeziorksi, “they all said that participants in sports earn better grades, behave better in the classroom, have fewer behavior problems outside the classroom, drop out significantly less, and attend school on a regular basis with fewer unexcused absences” (Theeboom, de Knop, Weiss 1995).

On the negative end of the spectrum though, parents can sometimes overburden their youth and force them to engage in activities they do not wish to participate in. All of a sudden, young athletes aren’t just playing sports for fun or personal enjoyment, but they’re playing so the family won’t be let down, a pressure that can occasionally suffocate a child. Psychologist Shane Murphy, who has worked with Olympians in the past, says his star athletes would buckle under ever-mounting parental pressure. “I can’t even count how many athletes have come into my office and said, “Look, I’m doing it, but I hate it,” says Murphy. “My parents have invested $80,0

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