For children, sports can have a very positive influence. It provides the necessary exercise while developing their social skills. Working as a team towards a common goal, they will learn about sportsmanship, cooperation, competition and goal-setting. These skills will enable them to become highly-functioning adults in the future. Some child athletes can even develop their skills to the fullest and make a living by playing a specific sport. However like with every activity, youth sports can have disadvantages. Oftentimes this can be largely attributed to the adults, but here are some things that you need to know if your child engages in sports as a hobby.
Being in a physically-demanding activity, children can easily suffer from sports-related activities. They can easily sustain muscle strains and sprains. For children, injuries are a big deal and will associate a negative emotion with sports or games in the future. This will lead them to avoid playing that sport or heighten their fear that if they play the sport for a long time they will be more susceptible to injuries. For children who play contact sports like soccer, they are more at risk of suffering from injuries and being traumatized. The risks for long-term injuries are also present in contact sports. If children are not properly trained or supervised, they could fracture bones and could affect how they perform daily tasks in the future.
A “burnout” occurs when a person starts a hobby or task passionately, but slowly loses that enthusiasm until they reach the point when that hobby or task is considered troublesome and is stopped. For children playing sports, a burnout is very possible and very real. At first, children are interested in learning about a sport, developing their skills, and meeting other children their age. However when coaches or parents push them to go to practice or do drills when they don’t want to, children start seeing the sport as a chore rather than being fun. Instead of associating sports as fun or promoting camaraderie, children will instead build resentment for that activity and grow up loathing it.
Too Much Competition
A little competition is healthy for children, since this will motivate them and will also teach them values like cooperation, friendship, and sportsmanship. However when they are exposed to competition for a long time, the lines between sports and their personal life begins to blur. At first, they will think that their self-worth will depend on their successes if they win. During the moments when they fail at something either at school or in sports, they will feel very bad and lose confidence. This can affect their social lives as well as their development. They will blame their team mates if their team doesn’t win, and it also puts a lot of pressure on the child before sporting events.
When sports practices become more important than their schoolwork, good grades will not be a priority and be eventually forgotten. For children who really love sports or for the athletes, they will simply study just enough for them to be able to get an average grade. Once they pass (just barely) their school subject, they focus all of their remaining time and energy on sports. It’s a good thing if schools support sports and extracurricular activities. However, sports should never be prioritized more than education for children.
For children who engage in sports at an early age, they have a lesser chance to develop risky behavior like smoking or drinking. They were taught at an early age to value their bodies and exercise regularly, so these habits will be easily ingrained into their daily life. Sure, they may be curious about smoking and drinking, but they have a higher chance to resist developing these unhealthy habits compared to other people who weren’t as involved in sports at an early age.
One problem that this poses however is that these children are more likely to develop other risky behaviors like fighting or binge drinking. Since they are made to believe that they are better than everyone else (competitively) and that their bodies are in good condition, they wouldn’t mind these riskier habits. Of course, not every child athlete is a binge drinker; however their chances of being one are high.
Parents always want to support their children, and sports are no exception. Parents always take time to bring children to sports practice, and cheer them at their games. However when parents become too involved in the success of their children’s team, it can set a negative example to their children. Parents who are too affected by a game will start barking orders or corrections at children, coaches, and even the game officials. They can demand that their child be put back in the game, while taking another child out. This can lead to parents fighting with other parents. For children who witness all these even if it’s not their own parents, it will leave a negative impression on sports and they won’t want to play the game anymore.
Loss of Time
Children and young adults can generally juggle their time for family, school, friends, and extracurricular activities just fine. But since youth sports have evolved into a more complicated event, it takes a huge chunk out of the children’s time. Rigorous training programs that are for a whole year or school leagues that keep children playing sports for many months will make time management difficult or impossible. Children will have difficulty making time for their own hobbies or interests, or even spend time with their family and friends.
If children decide to invest their time and effort in a particular sport, this can mean additional expenses for the parents. Children need uniforms, sports-specific equipment, and sometimes a registration fee even. Every time children will enter a league or competition, they need uniforms for each league. Regarding equipment, some sports equipment can be expensive to buy, and depending on the children’s use, it can get worn out pretty quick. During games, families and friends might need to pay every time they want to see a game.
The pressure in playing sports can be too much for some children to handle. They feel that they need to impress their parents and they should not let the team down as well. This leads to unhealthy behaviors for coping with pressure like anger, passing the blame, and inability to focus. In many situations, children place undue pressure on themselves and try to compare themselves with their team mates. Children should be taught that everyone is unique. If children need help regarding stress management and coping skills, then they should be brought to a professional immediately.
Getting children involved in sports are a good thing. There are lots of benefits to be reaped if children are exposed to sports at an early age. However, parents should also be aware and be prepared for the disadvantages in youth sports. These dangers are very real and should be properly addressed to ensure that children enjoy playing the sport and they are able to develop well.