For many parents, organized sports have a bad reputation. The media magnifies stories of overbearing hockey dads and overzealous dance moms so it is not a surprise that many parents have backed away from organized sports.
However, when parents keep their youngsters out of sports, that may mean the children don't get the activity they need, and that could lead to childhood obesity.
It is no secret that childhood obesity has become a problem in the United States.
In 2011-2012, which is when the most recent year statistics were released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 17 percent of children aged 2-19 were obese.
That's about 12.7 million children with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for their age and gender on the CDC BMI-for-age growth chart.
One way to combat these startling statistics is by helping children get regular daily physical activity, like by playing organized sports. Exercise not only provides physical benefits like helping children get to a healthy weight, but it can also promote emotional and mental well-being.
Even celebrities are working to give more children the benefits of playing sports. NBA star Dwyane Wade recently teamed up with the Sandals Foundation to form Game Changer, an integrated sports program which will benefit underprivileged children in both South Florida and the Caribbean.
This initiative will give the youth in these underserved communities access to organized sports, as well as recreation, healthy lifestyle education and family engagement.
Game Changer is working to help the kids in these neighborhoods achieve the CDC's recommendation of 60 minutes of aerobic activity each day.
Danyel Surrency Jones, co-founder of Powerhandz Inc., which produces athletic training products to help athletes improve performance in baseball, basketball and football, is another believer in the benefits of organized sports.
Along with her business partner and husband, Darnell Jones, a former professional basketball player himself, she started the Power To Give program to help kids in her community build character through playing organized sports.
Danyel and Darnell believe sports promote discipline, leadership and hard work. They started the Power to Give Foundation because they believe no child should be denied the character-building traits that sports provides.
In addition to fighting obesity and teaching valuable life skills, there are many reasons kids should play organized sports.
Here are three of the best:
1) Organized sports help to cultivate a positive attitude.
Athletes with negative attitudes cannot survive long. Either they cease to be athletes or they cease to be negative. Being active in organized sports demands that the person have a positive outlook, whether they are just starting out or are already an elite athlete.
2) Organized sports can increase self-esteem.
Simply being active can increase self-esteem, but playing organized sports also gives athletes a sense of accomplishment and confidence they may not be able to find elsewhere. Since obesity can cause poor self-esteem, and sports combats obesity, it is logical that sports have the capacity to increase self-esteem in participants.
3) Organized sports helps kids feel connected.
Organized sports help children feel part of a team, and give them a place where they belong. On a team, everyone is working together for a common goal. Kids who must fight to find their place in life often can find it on a sports team.
Organized sports can help to build children up physically, mentally and emotionally. They can provide essential traits that children can apply to any endeavor they seek out later in life.
Bottom line — organized sports can be a positive addition to children's lives.
CDC.gov. Web. 28 January 2015. “Childhood obesity facts.”
CDC.gov. Web. 28 January 2015. “Basics about childhood obesity.”
Sandalsfouncation.org. Web. 28 January 2015. “The Sandals Foundation and Dwyane Wade join forcs to launch Game Changer.”
Powerhandsz.com. Web. 28 January 2015. “Power to Give.”
Reviewed January 29, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith