THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Every afternoon and
weekend, children in uniform and parents toting sports gear, water
bottles and lawn chairs converge on America's fields for soccer,
baseball and football games.
Pretty much everyone agrees that the nation's kids are in dire
need of more physical activity and that organized sports can help
achieve that. Yet, some experts warn that adult attitudes about
winning and competition are taking the fun out of youth sports, and
driving too many kids to drop out too soon.
Though an estimated 30 million children played on youth league
teams last year, many kids no longer participate when they reach
middle and high school, experts say. That not only puts kids at
risk of gaining weight and becoming sedentary adults, but robs them
of one of the great joys of living: movement.
"If parents would just relax a little bit, let the child be a child, and not try to make that child be an adult, you are going to give them the gift of moving for life," said Sandra Sims, an associate professor in the human studies department at University of Alabama Birmingham, who spent two decades as a middle and high school coach and physical education teacher.
So what's the explanation for kids' loss of interest?
Some blame goes to overzealous parents who scream at referees
and pressure kids to work toward a college scholarship before
they've learned to tie their own cleats, experts say.
But even more common issues, they say, are poor coaching,
societal attitudes that encourage winning at all costs and a push
to have children specialize in one sport too soon.
"Everything that you read states students are leaving because it's not fun anymore. The push seems to be, 'Let's get them going real early in one sport.' For a small majority of students, that kid that is a Tiger Woods or the elite athlete, that works. But it doesn't work for most students," Sims said.
Experts offered these tips for parents and coaches to keep the
fun in the game.
University of Michigan has information on youth
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