Sports: Part 1–The Little Athlete

Sports.  People have had all kinds of experiences with them and have developed all kinds of opinions on the matter.  I will speak from my perspective–someone who played 3 sports throughout high school, several recreational sports throughout college, and is now encouraging my little ones to play them.  This topic is so extensive that it will be a 3-parter: the little athlete, the school-aged athlete, and the adult athlete.

My son’s favorite toy has been a ball ever since the day he could pick one up.  He goes through phases and alternates between red ball, baseball, football, soccer ball, basketball, golf ball, broken ball–if it’s round, he loves it.  This is probably pretty typical for a 2 year-old boy…playing games is in his blood and it’s most natural for him to do it.  Playing “balls” is how he learns about gravity–what goes up must come down, right?  It is how he learns about trajectory and force and various concepts of physics.  It is how he learns about perseverance–if you miss the first time, keep trying!  It is how he learns to take turns.  It is how he gets exercise and develops skills–fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and not to mention coordination.

I know all kids are different, but the littlest of athletes participates in sports because they are fun, because there is still a love for learning, and because it is something to do with friends.  There is something so innocent in young kids playing sports…until adults get involved.  Here is part of an ACSM Letter to the Editor: Solutions in play for inactivity epidemic:

Youth sports programs and recreational leagues for people of all ages are highlights for millions of Americans in spring and summer. This helps accomplish a fundamental goal of the burgeoning Designed to Move initiative – to give every child a positive early experience with physical education, sports and physical activity.

The last sentence is what got me motivated to write on this topic:   “to give every child a positive early experience with physical education, sports and physical activity.”  It is our role as adults to help little kids have a positive experience with sports–whether it’s organized or not.  Let kids be kids.  Let them have fun, learn new things, and make new friends.  

In my “little athlete” years, I had a very positive experience with sports.  They were fun, not too competitive, and I am still friends with some of the people I played with.  I believe these positive experiences led me to desire competition during my school-aged years.  

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