In helping kids to select sports, their personal interests are of primary importance. But other factors should also be considered, including the benefits of individual versus team sports. Despite the absence of scientific research on the topic, some broad and general comparisons can help to guide the decision-making process.
What are the prominent features of team sports?
What are the prominent features of individual sports?
What about boxing?
Dr. Rainer Martens, a sport psychologist and youth sport authority, stated the following: "Boxing should be banned, forbidden, and eliminated forever as a sport for children." I totally agree. Why? Boxing is the only sport whose goal is to harm another person. Reports of 12-year-old boxers who have registered strings of knockouts are chilling reminders of the basic brutality of the sport. The harmful effects of concussions are beyond the scope of this blog, but they obviously are a major concern in boxing.
Certainly, I’m aware that some underprivileged youths have found social and economic salvation through boxing. But I don’t believe that boxing in itself offers any benefits that cannot be achieved through other, less dangerous sports.
How many sports should your child play?
For most children, one sport at a time is plenty during the school year. The time and energy demands on both athletes and their parents need to be kept at a reasonable level. During the summer months, multiple-sport participation seems more reasonable. A child may have enough time and energy to be involved in several sports, such as baseball, tennis, and swimming.
Sometimes the best decision is not to participate.
Although youngsters’ participation in athletics is desirable, youth sports are not necessarily for everyone. Consequently, parents shouldn’t feel that their child must be on a team or involved in a sport. For those children who wish to pursue other activities, the best choice may be no sport.
Many parents become unduly alarmed if their child doesn’t show an interest in athletics. They think that a child who would rather do other things must somehow be abnormal. Forcing a child into sports against his or her will is a big mistake. Sometimes the wisest decision is to encourage the child to move into other activities that may be more suited to his or her interests and abilities, at least until an interest in sports develops.
Do you want to learn more about parenting young athletes?