28 Sep Let The Kids Play
Let the Kids Play
I received my undergrad at a university down south. One thing I learned about the south, besides the fact that southerners will eat a human hand as long as it is fried and accompanied with a sweet tea, is that kids are reared to play football from a young age. Well intentioned fathers will push their sons to focus on just playing football to help ensure they succeed.
The more physical activity an individual does before physiological adulthood, the higher level of athleticism and strength he or she will possess. Some research supports that a healthy person will have developed all of the muscle fibers that he or she can by the age of twenty-one.
According to this theory, one can increase the cross-sectional area of muscle fibers but cannot increase the number of muscle fibers after or around reaching this age. This means that the amount of exercise a person does before this time will determine the “ceiling” for their strength and athleticism for the rest of their lives.
Children exposed to all different sports and physical activities may be able to develop a higher ceiling for their physical capabilities.
An Alternative Approach
The old Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries created a culture in which children were placed in a variety of activities and told to participate in a bunch of different sports. This system was based in the belief that the child would eventually display natural abilities and interest toward certain sports/events.
The coaches would then further narrow the choice down until the young athlete was placed with a sport that best suit his or her talents and physical attributes.
Although this system was only made possible because of the political and social structures, it may be one of the reasons why they were so dominant in athletic competition. Young athletes were given the opportunity to develop in all areas of athleticism while the athletic coaches were determining what sport they were best built for.
In today’s competitive sports culture it is easy to fall into the mindset that focusing all time and effort on one sport is the best bet to rise above the competition. For the young athlete though, this may be doing more of a disservice than anything else.
If you have kids, this is something to think about and research more. If you don’t have kids but plan to someday, it’s still something to think about.
Have an opinion on this? Leave it in the comments.