Youth sports are highly popular pastimes for young athletes, with approximately 45 million children and adolescent participants in the U.S. However, just as with most things, there are pros and cons to be considered regarding these activities.
One pro is that participating in youth sports keeps young athletes active. Although some may not know this, there is a childhood obesity epidemic sweeping the U.S., with the incidences of obesity in children tripling over the past three decades, and one of every three children being affected, according to experts. This can lead to further problems later in life, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, asthma, musculature dysfunction and pain.
Experts say that over the last 30 years, advances in technology, increasing crime rates, two income households, the national financial crisis, isolated suburban neighborhoods and fast food have facilitated a sedentary lifestyle with the consumption of high caloric foods. Additionally, they say that the reduction in physical activities, such as children walking to school and playing pick-up sports, has resulted in more time spent in front of screens, increasing the chances of obesity. As such, playing youth sports, where there is a mandated schedule of practice and exercise, is considered a benefit.
Another pro is that participating in youth sports can encourage young athletes to stay away from high-risk activities, according to experts. In a study, experts said that both male and female athletes were more likely to eat fruit and vegetables, and less likely to engage in smoking and illicit drug-taking, thanks to playing youth sports. Additionally, male athletes were also less likely than their nonathletic counterparts to sniff glue or carry a weapon. Finally, a reduction in suicidal thoughts and tendencies has been demonstrated for both teenage boys and girls who engage in sports. Many other pros are explained in the blog 10 Benefits of Youth Sports.
One con is that young athletes are left open to sports-related injuries due to them playing. There are 2.6 million emergency room visits each year for those aged 5–24 years, many due to sports injuries. Children have weaker bones than adults, meaning that breaks in bones are more common, especially for athletes playing contact sports. Additionally, experts say that during adolescent years, some athletes may experience a decrease in flexibility, coordination and balance, which not only increases the risk of injury, but also impacts sports performance, placing more stress, anxiety and social pressure on young athletes. This, combined with the high cost in money for rehabilitation and moodiness in injured athletes, can make injuries in youth sports a major concern for parents.
Another con is that young athletes are being asked to specialize in one sport, to the detriment of the others. When a player is told to play a single sport, they may grow resentful that they cannot participate in others and see which they like more. This may cause them to burn out, or grow weary of playing sports, allowing them to fall into the bad habits they may have avoided due to being occupied with sports.
An additional con is that young athletes participating in youth sports can place undue financial hardship on their families. As the years go by, organized sports are costing more and more. As such, some families are forced to forgo vacations or other family activities, if not due to the youth sports taking up so much time, then due to the cost taking funds away from other possible ventures.
A final con is the pressure that may be put on young athletes by parents or coaches. Unrealistic goals may be set, which can cause stress if they are not met. An activity that was supposed to be fun can be turned into a challenging, exhausting one, to the detriment of the athlete.
In conclusion, there are many ways to view youth sports. However one might feel, most will agree that some changes should be made so that there are fewer cons and more pros to participating in this pastime.
A sports training facility is a great way to focus on the pros of youth sports by giving your son or daughter a positive place to work hard and improve. The best one we know is: STACK Sports in Mahwah, New Jersey.