There is a recent trend in society where kids are starting sports earlier and earlier. I think this is a necessary thing, but not ideal for the kids. A lot of kids start playing organized sports as early as first grade. There are many pros and cons to this early start.
We’ll start with the positives. The earlier a child starts to learn a specific set of skills, the better they will be. The older a person gets, the harder it is to learn new things. The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is quite true here. So it becomes a huge disadvantage to keep kids from participating in sports until they’re older.
Another positive is that it’s a great way to socialize. These kids are just learning how to interact with other kids their age, so this is just one more way to have the kids play together in a constructive way.
There are many arguments against starting so young, though. One argument is that it becomes too big of a time commitment for such a young age. It seems as though kids are missing out on their childhoods now days. For example, for three years in a row I would have to leave my cabin during the Fourth of July to go to a basketball tournament. That was a huge bummer to leave my family to go ball out in a sweaty gym for a week.
It’s also vital to be dedicated to a specific sport at a young age so that when you’re older you can actually be good at it. Most sports nowadays are year-round, no matter when the official season is. Athletes are expected to be practicing during the off season, too. For example, I would often have to make tough decisions about which activity to pursue when they overlapped. If I hadn’t chosen basketball each time, I probably wouldn’t be playing basketball at a college level today.
Another reason starting so young is bad would be because there are more injuries than there used to be. When you put so much stress on your body from such a young age, it becomes more likely to have serious injuries. For example, I knew a girl who had so many concussions from all her sports when she was in middle school that by the time she got to college, when she got one more concussion, she was told to quit playing or else she could have had serious brain damage.
There’s also been a shift over the years. These days, kids have to start young. But back in the day, anyone could just start playing whenever they wanted and they could still be good enough. My mom is a great example of this, she didn’t start playing competitive sports until she was in high school and she even went on to play on a college team. That would never happen today. If someone only started playing a sport in high school, they would not be competitive enough to play on a college team.
All in all, I think it’s necessary for kids to start playing sports at a young age so they can then decide if they want to pursue it later. If a kid didn’t start a certain sport at the same time as their peers did, it would be very difficult for them to catch up if they started a few years later.
Jill Morton is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]