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Sport and the Youth of Today

Mar 25, 2008
When I was a child we played soccer in the winter and cricket in the summer. Life was simple. In these times that we live in children have so many opportunities to try out new sports and disciplines; this has got to be a good thing, right? I'm not too sure.

For instance, as I've already explained I played soccer as a child, that was my passion, it was all I did. I ate, drank and slept soccer. Every spare moment of my youth was spent playing and training for the next soccer match. I was focussed on what I wanted to do so could train for a specific goal.

Obviously computer, video and console games have a part to play in why so many countries are not turning out the number of sporting stars that they previously were. For instance, in our local school of eleven to sixteen year olds the following sports are available to the pupils;

Soccer
Rugby
Cricket
Trampolining
Golf
Cycling
Judo
Dance
Wrestling
Volleyball
Badminton
Tennis
Softball
Rounders
Hockey
Netball

Now I'm all for choice within school and it's a great thing to see children playing sports and keeping fit but surely the amount of choice available doesn't give the pupil the chance to excel at any one thing and progress to a level where he or she feels the enthusiasm and motivation to push themselves to the next level. And this is where I feel the system is letting the youth of today down.

On average a child at school today will have two hours per week of physical education. Split that over approximately forty weeks per year at school equals eighty hours per year of sport. Now divide that between just ten of the above sports giving just eight hours per year to participate in any sport. That doesn't seem right to me.

I appreciate that some pupils will naturally excel at certain sports and will be picked to play for their school team but where does this leave the masses?
On the fringe with no real sporting goal to aim for is where. Children like to feel part of things, to be involved and participating in something that they feel they can improve in. The current national sporting formula isn't allowing this to happen.

If a child is de-motivated by sport he will switch off, it's been proven in trials that people who were turned off from sport as a child do not feel they can return to it as an adult. Sport is either something you did as a child, enjoyed and continued into adulthood or had to do as a child and left behind at the earliest opportunity.

I don't have the answers, as I previously said choice is a wonderful thing but for every one child that is un-earthed to be a volleyball champion are we leaving a swathe of disaffected youth behind?
Discuss.
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Harwood E Woodpecker
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