Sports are group games and individual activities involving physical activity and skills.
Sports help children develop physical skills, get exercise, make friends, have fun, learn to play as a member of a team, learn to play fair, and improve self-esteem.
Participation in sports is a great way of staying active and offers wonderful rewards for mental health. Being involved in sports has been proven to help children learn valuable skills for dealing with life's ups and downs. They teach youth how to interact with others and work as a team. This skill facilitates working with others in other ways such as on a class project or a school play. Sports also help students become more independent and feel better about themselves. The result is positive self-esteem and self-confidence, which are extremely important for determining later happiness and success.
Sports also offer an enjoyable, exciting environment in which to learn how to handle both failure and success. Everyone wins and loses some of the time in both sports and other endeavors. Winning feels great and empowering but can also cause a young person to feel pressure and anxiety in the next attempt to win. Losing usually produces feelings of sadness, depression, and disappointment. Learning how to cope with these different feelings fosters good mental health.
Another aspect of sports that contributes to a healthy mind is goal-setting. Young people who have goals are more likely to be self-motivated and are usually able to accomplish more because they know what they need to do in order to get ahead. Without goals, adolescents tend to lack direction and focus. In sports, goal setting is essential for improving individually and working as a team. This is also true in other pursuits. For example, if a student wants to get better grades, reaching specific goals, such as studying for a certain period of time each night, is the most likely way to achieve them.
SPORTSMANSHIP American sports culture has increasingly become a business. The highly stressful and competitive attitude prevalent at colleges and in professional sports affects the world of children's sports and athletics, creating an unhealthy environment. The attitudes and behavior taught to children in sports carry over into adulthood. Parents should take an active role in helping their child develop good sportsmanship, according to a 2002 health advisory issued by the journal Clinical Reference Systems.
To help adolescents get the most out of sports, parents need to be actively involved. Quoting from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Web site, parental involvement includes the following steps:
attending all or some games and talking about them afterward
having realistic expectations for your child
learning the sport and supporting your child's involvement
helping your child talk with you about experiences with the coach and other team members
helping your child handle disappointments and losing
modeling respectful spectator behavior
EXTREME SPORTS Extreme sports in the early 2000s are becoming increasingly popular among young people. They offer the thrill of facing difficult challenges and overcoming obstacles. Extreme sports get the heart racing and put the body and mind to the test in the face of danger. However, with the many physical and mental benefits of extreme sports comes the risk of injuries. It is essential to work with a trained instructor and use the necessary safety equipment when doing any kind of extreme sport.
Extreme sports are not for everyone. However, those looking for bigger challenges in their quest for physical fitness have many options, including rock and ice climbing, surfing, whitewater rafting, wakeboarding, water-skiing, mountain-bike racing, bicycle stunt-riding, skydiving, skateboarding, and extreme snowboarding. There are many camps around the country that teach extreme sports to kids and teenagers. Anyone can find the nearest extreme sports camp or more general information by typing "extreme sports" on any Internet search engine. There are thousands of Web sites devoted to these activities.
Teresa G. Odle, Ken R. Wells, Thomson Gale, Gale, Detroit,