I’ll come straight out and say it, I am a huge believer in the benefits of children playing at least one competitive sport.
I have been lucky enough that all my children have been reasonably active and interested in sport from a very early age. It does probably help that Dad enjoyed playing sport and as he has got older now enjoys watching a lot of sport of the TV, so it is always around them at home.
In this day and age of computers, mobile phones, xboxes, Wii, Playstations, Ipads etc etc it is easy to see how our kids get sucked into sitting on their backsides all day long, not playing sport and generally turning into socially inadequate obese teenagers.
I’ve got news for you kiddies – GET OUTSIDE AND RUN AROUND IN THE FRESH AIR, IT IS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU.
My kids have played (remember I am in Australia) Australian Rules Football, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Cricket, Baseball, soccer, Golf, Netball and Basketball at different stages. Yes it cost me a small fortune in memberships, uniforms, equipment but I don’t care. My kids all stayed active, were very fit, had great self-esteem, were outgoing and actually knew how to communicate with people “face to face” instead of only via a mobile phone with “lol and btw”
While the side effects of my kids all being active, fit and keeping their weight in check is great, I don’t believe that is the best outcome. I am really very concerned that a lot of our children are becoming socially inept. A lot of children (this applies to adults as well) are losing the knowledge, the skill of meeting someone, starting up a conversation and going from there. A lot of the time nothing will come of it except a brief memory of a moment in time. Other times you may develop a friendship that lasts for years or better still, maybe meet our future partner.
With some of my children now being adults I have been through numerous 18 and 21st Birthday parties. A group of us from the local football club arranged that we would help each other out at our respective kids 18th birthday parties by providing a bit of security. When there was a party on, 4 or 5 of us Dads would go round to the venue and act as security – keep out gate crashers and make sure that once the alcohol started kicking in, that things didn’t get out of control.
Standing back on the side watching these parties was a massive eye opener for me. You could really see the kids that had social skills and were comfortable being in a social setting. They mingled and mixed all night. They were comfortable talking with anyone. Then there would be the smaller groups of people who stayed in their small little groups all nigh and looked decidedly uncomfortable. Over many of these parties you got to see a lot of the same kids over and over and I started talking to them. I thought it might have been because those kids are the “jocks” and we’re not but it really wasn’t. It wasn’t a social segregation based around those that played sport and those that didn’t. These kids were invited to the parties because they were all friends at school. However when they got into a social situation they seemed to really struggle to mingle and mix with people they didn’t know.
So my recommendation is – If you want your kids to be healthy, fit and socially competent, get them into a sport as soon as possible.
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