This was an interesting question that I was thinking about this morning.
I could take this several directions:
- I could look at the benefits of exercise from sports (assuming the kids actually got enough exercise in practice – see older blog post).
- I could look at the benefits of working in a team which I see from team sports.
- I could look at the recovery benefits of losing and coming back which is very important in business and life. (how do you handle adversity)
- I could look at the dangers of sports.
- I could look at concussions in football and the discussion of helmets for soccer.
- I could look at the negative impacts of parents on their kids relative to sports.
- Fighting at sport events.
- Pushing their kids too far. (below are some things I’ve heard and seen)
- Just keep running even if you throw up. You’ll be fine.
- If you have to pee, just pee in your swim suit. You can’t be distracted during the meet.
- If you do that again, we’re going to get up at 5 in the morning and go to the gym and practice it 100x before school.
- You need to work harder so you can be in the Olympics at 16.
- This is our college plan. They have to be the best at this sport.
- I pulled them out of school so they could practice more. (The kid was 7.)
But, I saw an article about the time that kids start school, and it got me thinking about sleep and sports and the impact on kids.
Let’s start with some established facts:
- Kids need more sleep than adults. From the CDC’s website:
- Kids do better in school with more sleep.
- Sleep impairs decision making which is critical in the teen years.
- Lack of sleep is linked with weight and obesity.
- Lack of sleep is linked with numerous other health problems including depression.
Now, let’s assume most grade schools start around 8:00. (My kid’s school starts at 7:30.) That means that they likely have to get up by 7:00 at the latest. So, they should be in bed by 9:00 PM on average probably earlier for most kids and families where people are catching the bus or driving to school.
If their sports are starting practice or games after 6:00 PM, how likely is it that they’re home, calmed down, with their homework finished, and in bed by 9:00 PM? Even if they are, how many parents are getting their kids to bed by 9:00?
“Sleep may be the most important, though overlooked, contributor to your children’s development and health. The reality is that children can survive without exercise and on little food (though I don’t recommend either), but all children need sleep. It’s often unnoticed because you don’t usually see your children sleeping and its benefits are not readily apparent (though its costs usually are).
The influence of sleep on children is profound. Quality sleep has been found to be associated with improved attention, reduced stress, greater emotional control, better mood, improved memory, greater ability to learn and return information, better grades, improved mental health, lower risk of obesity and other health problems, and longer life.” (From a good article on kid’s sleep in the Huffington Post)
So, just to be clear…I think kids should be in sports. I just think we (as parents) need to be more concerned about making sure we don’t sacrifice our kid’s sleep on a regular basis for them to play sports and lead them into health issues and school issues. The tradeoff isn’t worth it. (IMHO)