For me, physical education comes to mind. Obesity has been identified by many researchers as the most dangerous and debilitating chronic disease in both children and adolescents in North America.
I have a hard time watching 11 and 12 year-old boys playing baseball on national television. In fact, I just change the channel. Don't get me wrong. I love the kids, but are they ready for that kind of exposure? Aren't we exploiting the trials and tribulations of children for adult entertainment?
I am still marveling at Tiger Wood's incredible victory at the US. Open. His physical and mental toughness is practically unparalleled in professional sports. Yet, I wonder whether his victory was worth the cost.
Last Sunday, I took my three-year-old son to a Red Sox game. Given his fascination with Red Sox hats and T-shirts as well as baseball players in general, I was certain this was going to be a big occasion for him.
Did anyone read Robert Lypsyte's article, "'Jock Culture' permeates life'" in USA Today last Thursday? His central point is: "A ‘winning is everything' notion starts in the littlest of leagues. Lessons of hard work and fair play give way to ‘gain the edge at any cost.' But what happens when this type of thinking is adapted by CEOs, police officers, or politicians?" (USA Today, Thursday April 10th, 2008, pg 11A). Is the desire for immediate gratification permeating all aspects of our culture? Are the some of the negative lessons of sports stronger than the values of families and schools?
What if playing sports had absolutely no influence on college acceptance? What if playing for THE elite travel team meant only that our children were playing more games at a higher level with no free time for weekend relaxation? Would playing youth sports hold the same importance it does in present day culture?
Playing youth sports has drastically changed in the last twenty years. When I was young, we played pickup games in my neighborhood. Basketball, wiffleball, and touch football - without the involvement and supervision of adults - were our games until dark.