Sports are integral to American culture. You likely often see people play basketball and hockey on TV and in your hometown’s recreational leagues. Many revolve their lives around their sports
and have been playing since they were old enough to walk. If you have kids, you’ve probably considered signing them up for a sports league. Should you let them play? Here are the pros and cons of children playing sports.
Pros of Kids Playing Sports
Your kid can’t be a Gold Glove winner in elementary school, but they’ll gain these five advantages when playing youth sports.
Collaboration is something you use daily at work. How did you learn teamwork skills growing up? Many children use sports leagues to harness these abilities. You won’t see it as much in
individual sports like golf and tennis, but team sports like baseball and football teach kids how to work together. In basketball, your child can’t take every shot for themselves — they must learn to pass the ball. Learning how to share and work with others will help them in grade school when they share toys and work on group projects.
Adopting Leadership Skills
Your kid may be a natural-born leader and sports can be their first platform to show it. Children who demonstrate good communication skills early may be well-suited for leadership roles on
sports teams. They can quickly learn from the coach and teach fundamentals to others on the team. Some sports teams allow kids to take on leadership roles like captain. These positions are
excellent for children because they get their first chance to stand out in the crowd. Getting to leadership positions isn’t easy, so it shows them hard work pays off.
Before the digital age, you had to get outside to make friends. Nowadays, more kids bury their faces into tablets and phones instead of touching grass. How are they supposed to make
friends while playing arcade games on their iPad and watching TV? It’s much easier when they’re on the courts and fields. Team sports create bonds you’ll never forget. Your team works hard and no outsider knows what you went through — whether they were good or bad times. Youth sports help your child make friends with kids who have similar interests.
Imagine your kid plays basketball and throws the game-winning shot in their first game as the buzzer sounds. They accomplished what they’ve seen the basketball greats like LeBron James
do. This achievement does wonders for their self-confidence. Throwing the game-winner isn’t expected, but sports still do a terrific job of building confidence. Your child will overcome challenges in youth sports, like learning new skills and playing tough opponents. Excelling in these areas builds their confidence and gives them pride that stays for years.
Childhood obesity is a major problem in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control says about 20% of American kids are obese. This condition stems from numerous factors, but you can
lower the risk by signing your child up for sports leagues. They’ll get regular physical activity in practices and games. Your kid will likely only focus on the winning and losing aspects of sports. Regardless of the outcome, they’re getting physical activity. Football, soccer and basketball require a lot of running. Even slow-paced, individual sports like golf provide fresh air and can help get children as young as 5 years old interested in exercise.
Cons of Kids Playing Sports
Sports are fun, but there are risks. These five disadvantages show why some reconsider.
Distraction From School
Football is typically in the fall, while baseball and softball are in the spring. What do they have in common? Most sports occur during the school year. Sports are excellent after-school activities
for children but can be an academic distraction. Most practice sessions occur after school, whether late afternoon or early evening. Consider travel and you could take two or more hours away from their homework and study time. Plus, kids need time to relax and be children with their families. The time consumed on sports could overwhelm them and cause burnout.
Sports provide terrific opportunities for your kid but can come at a steep financial cost. Research shows the average family spends $883 yearly for one child’s sport. The prices might not seem
like much initially, but they add up quickly. First, you have to pay registration fees to sign up. Then you’ll buy equipment like pads, jerseys, shoes and more. Tack on more money for travel costs like gas and food. Some coaches take your kids to camps, requiring a fee to participate. Other parents pay professionals to give their children private lessons.
Youth sports provide life-changing experiences for kids. However, they’re not always positive. Your child could have negative surroundings discouraging their passion for sports and other
team activities. For example, they could have a coach who is way too hard on the players or a parent who routinely embarrasses the team at games. Fellow teammates could bully your kid and it’s up to the coaches to address it. However, that doesn’t always happen. Monitor your children’s sports and ensure the coach has fostered a positive learning environment for everyone.
Adverse environments often put pressure on kids. Some coaches watch too much NBA and expect their players to shoot like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, even though the players are
only in elementary school. The coaches might not realize it, but your children feel the pressure. This anxiety can ruin the fun for them and take away what sports are supposed to be about. Kids play youth sports to have fun, learn skills and make friends. Winning is nice, but too much pressure can ruin their love for the game.
Risk of Injuries
One of the most significant risks with sports is injuries. Regardless of the activity, your kid faces dangers to their body. Research shows about five million children need a physician for sports-
related injuries and three million end up in emergency rooms. There is a chance of injury, but you can lower the risk by ensuring your coaches create a safe playing environment. At home, feed your kids a well-balanced diet and keep them hydrated to mitigate fatigue and cramps.
Should You Encourage Your Kids to Play Sports?
Generally, children have positive experiences when playing individual or team sports. Sign them up for sports they’ve expressed interest in. Their participation also requires time from you, but seeing the smiles on your kids’ faces is well worth the effort. Asking your child to be the next Derek Jeter or Serena Williams may be too much. Encourage them to have fun and support their teammates. They’ll learn invaluable lessons that will help them in school and other aspects of their lives.