Above, kids organizing a game of man hunt. As you can see 1 child takes on a leadership role, appoints each participant a task and the kids not only learn a valuable life lesson, but also get exercise all while playing.
I have been wanting to write something about this for some time now. Thank you for your time in reading this and thank you for your support in our youth program.
As a recent step parent to an awesome 9-year-old, I have noticed that kids are slowly lacking the ability to play. Also, the need for a structured organized sport for my 9-year-old seems redundant and not necessary. They spend more time learning the game, and not as much time playing. Plus, we as parents feel that we need to put them in as many sports and activities possible or else we feel we have failed them, but in actuality I believe we are causing them more harm. As after the camps, school, soccer, hockey, football classes, Spanish class, violin practice etc etc etc, when I ask my son to go out and play and only come back when either you are hungry or the street lights turn on, he looks at me dumb founded, like huh? You want me to do what? With the constant stimulation from the technology (can you believe that if your child does not have an ipad, according to some schools they could fall behind) that when they are asked to go out and play, they get bored. Wait a second, playing outside is boring? When we were kids you could not keep us inside, now kids fight to stay in and play on technology. Now granted I did play my fair share of Mario bros. as a kid but I also knew how to organize a game of manhunt with the neighbourhood kids who I went door to door asking if they wanted to come out and play. Don’t get me wrong there is plenty of pro’s when it comes to organized sports, developing friendships, learning a sport, developing leadership traits, etc. this article is about having them in at the right time, as all those traits you can learn while playing a giant game of manhunt with the neighbourhood kids.
What is considered structured and un structured?
OCRA flirts with both categories, OFK and kids camp happens at a specific time, are organized by adults, but we focus on the aspect of playing. Teaching them how to use their body to navigate through obstacles by following the ABC’s of sports.
We focus on the aspect of being self motivated, when we have free time we encourage the youth to organize one another by setting the rules, they get to climb structures, crawl under things, jump through things, essentially, it’s a concrete jungle for the kids to get in shape by playing.
One of the many challenge with structured sports such as soccer, lacrosse, and football for kids under the age of 16 is that seventy percent of children leave organized sports by the age 13, according to research by the National Alliance for Sports. Let's put it this way: If your daughter or son plays on a soccer team, seven out of 10 of the members of that team won't be playing soccer or any organized sport whatsoever by the time they enter their teenage years.
Syracuse University made headlines recently with word that an eighth-grade girl had verbally committed to play on its women's lacrosse team, a move that appears to be the youngest ever commitment to a men's or women's college lacrosse team. What kid at the age of 13 knows what they want, let alone what team they want to play for. The underlining issue with this is, that parents strive for their kids to get a scholarship, coaches encourage scouts to come to their team. These kids are losing out on so many things because now its not a game, it’s a business and that if they want that scholarship they now HAVE to go to these events and not only do they have the pressure of the game on their shoulders but their entire future.
Why are kids quitting?
"Kids are telling us this is not for me. It might be for you, but it's really not meeting our needs," said Mark Hyman, author of three highly-regarded books on kids and sports, including "Until It Hurts: America's Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids."
One of the main reasons kids are walking away is because of injuries due to overuse. Every year, more than 3.5 million children under the age 14 need treatment for sports injuries, with nearly half of all sports injuries for middle and high school students caused by overuse, according to research.
Parents are showing up to practice, recording the action on their iphones, only to use it later to review with the kids. When I went to practice hardly any of the parents stuck around, and on the way home after a game if I wanted to talk about something I would, my mother would not talk to me about something unless I was in the mood to talk about it. This is an issue we see all to much is over parenting. By no means am I saying you should be involved, but you don’t want to be too involved. If you create an environment where the child feels safe to talk to you about something, trust me, they will.
Report card is in and it ain’t good Canada.
According to the ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth are compared to grades from 37 other countries across six continents. The global comparisons were led by Dr. Mark Tremblay, Director of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (HALO-CHEO) and Chief Scientific Officer of the ParticipACTION Report Card. The consolidated findings show Canada has above-global-average grades in physical activity infrastructure and programs, yet is trailing at the back of the pack in grades that measure physical activity and sedentary behaviour. The comparisons also reveal kids move the most in countries where being active is a priority or is an integral part of their everyday lifestyle.
Physical activity is not a priority in Canadian children’s lifestyles; inactive modes of transportation to and from school, too much screen time and being too busy for free play are all contributing to Canada’s lagging grades in the comparisons. It will take many facets of Canadian society, working together, to shift behaviours to get our children and youth more physically active.
I believe that kids should learn to play, and when it comes to high school and playing isen’t cool anymore, get them to try out for a structured sport. Hopefully by this time they are in great shape from all that climbing, crawling, sprinting and navigating over obstacles have got them into decent shape where now they can take that athleticism and apply it a structured sport where they can now excel and they hopefully have the maturity to do what is necessary to be successful at their selected sport. Support them by encouraging them when they are down and reminding them when they are up that there will be a down but this is why they train.
Remember we get really good at what ever we practice, this includes excuses.
Blogging thoughts from OCRA Team