Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 2010 Yessssss! Our record is 10-0 -- way to go team. Team sports with all the hoopla and fanfare are exciting to watch and exhilarating to play. Accord- ing to the Women’s Sports Foundation, approximately 21.5 million American children between the ages of six and seventeen are involved in a team sport. Teens entering the junior year in high school will make a conscious decision about committing to a sport and are no longer choosing to get involved in sports just for fun or because their parents de- cided they should become more physi- cally active. As teens develop as players they learn the value of teamwork and generally have stronger peer relation- ships and a better understanding of in- dividuals from different backgrounds. With this higher level of social support also comes a higher level of resilience. Despite the clear benefits associated with children participating in sports, there are a number of caveats that should be considered. The physical, mental and psychological impact is extremely important to take note of. As the competition intensifies children are less likely to freely divulge some of these issues to you. Parents awareness of their own children will play a critical part in early intervention should any of these warnings signs manifest. Stress If the pressure to win is overempha- sized or the expectations of parents or coaches become too great, kids may ex- perience psychological stress. Stress can cause a decrease in the enjoyment of engaging in sports, and it can also cause anxiety, headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, disruption in sleep, mus- cle pains and depression. To diminish the risk of these negative effects, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance recommends minimizing the emphasis on winning and instead focusing on de- veloping specific skill sets. Players can emphasis improvement in their individ- ual stats and applaud these accomplish- ments to counter the negative feelings associated with losing a game. Physical Injury According to the National Center for Sports Safety, over 3 million children under the age of 14 incur some type of injury as a result of sports. These in- juries can occur at a heavy practice or a competitive event. Broken bones can result from direct impact of a ball or a fall during competition. Injuries such as tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) occur more and more in young athletes due to the rigors of practice and competitions. Repetitive motion sports, such as swimming, may cause injuries to muscles or tendons due to the overuse of specific muscle groups or joints during training. Unsportsmanlike Behavior Unsportsmanlike behavior is modeled in a variety of sporting situations. In both practice and competitive events, children are exposed to other children who may exhibit undesirable behav- ior. Examples include yelling, cursing or violence in response to self-anger or anger at a referee or other player. In addition, children may witness parents engaging in these be- haviors. Children learn behaviors by seeing another person complete the same activity, and therefore witnessing these behaviors may lead the child to mimic these in similar situations. Talk to children about appropriate behavior during practice and games and how to manage anger in an acceptable way such as taking a few deep breaths to relax. Any undesirable behavior wit- nessed by other players or parents should be discussed after the event. Ask the children to give an example of how that particular individual could have better handled the situation. This gives them an example of proper behavior in case they find themselves in a similar circumstance. Time Commitment Participation in sports requires a signifi- cant time commitment from children. Attending practices, travel to and from competitions and the events them- selves all take time away from children's daily activities. While exercise is impor- tant, these activities should not take away from sleep, meals or school. Find a balance of these activities and avoid placing kids in too many sports and overcommitting their time. Encourage children to study during downtime such as travel or between events or games to ensure school remains a priority. Undue Pressure Young athletes may feel undue pressure from parents, coaches or other players to compete in sports they are not inter- ested in pursuing. Additionally, children may place excessive amounts of pres- sure on themselves to perform at a level they are not comfortable with. Participa- tion in sports may then lead to a higher level of day-to-day stress that impacts other aspects of their lives such as sleep or school. Help a child through this by WELL-BEING COMPETITIVE SPORTS: Keeping our Eyes on the Prize “Being a full time student athlete will definitely assist me in achieving my life goals. I have learned to master the concept of time manage- ment due to constantly dealing with the hectic schedules a student athlete is handed.” Shannon McGill