Most teens don’t play sports in high school. We could change that.

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I thought of children and sports because I read a recent report from the Aspen Institute titled “Sport for All/Play for Life: A Handbook for Developing Every Student through Sport.”

The Aspen Institute is a group that studies many important issues, including youth sports.

Sport is important because studies show that children who are physically active are less likely to be obese (overweight to a degree that puts their health at risk). They are also less likely to smoke or use drugs. Additionally, physically active children do better on school tests and are more likely to go to college.

The problem is that most kids stop playing sports by the time they get to high school. This means that many children do not get enough exercise.

The Aspen Institute recently surveyed nearly 6,000 high school students. The main reason given by these teenagers for not playing sports in high school is that they have too much homework.

Maybe schools should assign less homework so students have more time for physical activity. (I think I can hear the kids cheering for that suggestion!)

Another reason given by teenagers for not playing in high school is that their school does not offer sports that interest them.

It makes sense. If children are interested in sports like skateboarding and rock climbing, why don’t schools offer these sports in addition to traditional sports like football, basketball and soccer.

While the Aspen Institute suggests solutions such as community partnerships and better coach education, it seems the problem is that youth sports in the United States emphasizes finding the “best” athletes instead. to encourage as many children as possible to play and be physically active.

In a better world, youth sports would emphasize participation from an early age over all-star and travel teams. This could help more children to continue their sport instead of stopping around the age of 13.

If there were more “sporty kids,” it could encourage high schools and colleges to offer more intramural and club sports rather than the usual college sports that only serve a small group of kids. Or perhaps the city and county recreation departments would respond by organizing more recreational leagues and teams for high school kids.

I don’t mind competitive sports in college high school. My kids have played on high school teams and loved it. The best kids should be given the opportunity to develop their talents against good competition. Just like kids with the best voices and acting skills get lead roles in school musicals or plays.

Everyone’s goal, however, should be to give as many children as possible a positive sport experience that will lead them to become more active adults.

It may mean changing the way we approach youth sports.

Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 27 sports books for children. His latest book is “Hardcourt: Stories From 75 Years of the National Basketball Association”.


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