The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

May 16, 2014

Mountain biking, rollerblading edge out baseball, football for some athletes

Playing on teams and participating in sports remains a big draw for young people – boys and girls. That’s one constant.

Noticeably different is that when games are no longer fun, young people are just as likely to hang up their cleats and walk away. Some don't even make it to their teenage years before quitting sports.

Those who investigate participation in youth sports agree on that much. Pinpointing a reason why young people fall in and out of love with sports is not as simple. There are probably many reasons.

The good news is more boys and girls are getting involved in athletic competition. Ronald B. Woods, author of the book, “Social Issues in Sports,” said overall participation has reached an all-time high. What’s alarming, said Woods, is that drop-out levels are increasing, as well.

Popular high school teams - such as basketball, soccer, baseball and football - have seen declines in members in many places. By contrast, the number of female athletes has climbed dramatically since the passage of Title IX, which mandated more opportunities for girls. Dancing, cheerleading, swimming, volleyball and soccer are extremely popular among girls and young women.

Cultural and socioeconomic issues may explain why some young people are backing away from sports.

Increases in concussions and other sports injuries - which have been highly publicized - could also be a reason why some parents advise their children to quit sports where hard-hitting play and collisions are part of the action.

Soccer, a game equally popular among boys and girls, has enjoyed a tremendous a growth spurt in the past decade or more. But it also involves serious injuries, especially concussions and ligament damage.

Many young people say they leave sports because it’s no longer fun, they don’t want to put in the extra time to be highly competitive, or they've found more enjoyable things to do. Cost is also a consideration.

In recent years, players have been encouraged to specialize in a sport so they can compete – and win – at the highest levels. That leads some to reject what they perceive as an overemphasis on winning and the stress of pleasing coaches and parents.

Woods noted in his research that boys and girls try out for teams at young ages, sometimes even before kindergarten. Top players join travel teams and participate in special leagues and tournaments throughout the year.

The changes related to that are dramatic. A Little League player may have been in 15 games during a summer season only 10 years ago. That number can easily reach 75 to 100 now for ballplayers willing to travel.

Interestingly, the number of girls and boys participating in Little League baseball has declined in recent years. Some coaches complain the defections could be tied to the growing popularity of travel teams.

Then there’s a new phenomenon - a fascination with social media, digital games and technology – proving to be a popular draw on teens’ attention. Staying connected is just as appealing to some as being competitive.

While high-profile sports are losing favor among some students, they are being replaced by other athletic activities. Boys are weight training, mountain biking, skateboarding and playing Ultimate Frisbee in growing numbers. Inline skating, lacrosse, bowling, camping and hiking are attracting new followers among girls.

That may represent a big change from the options their parents had as adolescents, but those who study such trends say the good news is that those activities keep young people from developing couch-potato habits.

What’s significant with youth sports today is that more kids than ever are participating - even if many are choosing to play different games and picking new activities, some of which aren’t team-oriented.

For many, sports are about competition and winning. For others, it’s about the joy of the experience.

Either way, that should be celebrated and encouraged.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Holly Youngquist Friends of the Library book sale is underway

    Friends of the Library Book Sale is open now. The sale is open to all until 8 p.m. today and on Friday, Aug. 1, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Finally, Saturday, Aug. 2, is box day. From 9 a.m. to  3 p.m., books will sell at $3 per box.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cremation service helped pet owner in her time of need

    I wanted to share some positive news about a business located in Clinton that I’m guessing most residents aren’t aware even exists. It’s Northridge Pet Cremation on Main Avenue and for me they were recently a godsend.

    July 31, 2014

  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A Cappella choir concert was a success

    The CHS A Cappella reunion was great. It was real great to hear so many good voices of so many former choir members.

    July 31, 2014

  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Time to boost social security

    It's time for Congress to act so that Social Security benefits can finally start to keep pace with the cost of living.

    July 31, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Off and on the record Let us now praise anonymous sources.The new White House press secretary got into a familiar old spat with the White House press corps the other day over the use of anonymous sources.Josh Earnest — has there ever been a more perfectly named White Hous

    July 25, 2014

  • Be more informed

    Blame the city.That is a favorite pastime of many, including me at times. Driving over that pesky pothole or paying that annual property tax bill can lead to some choice words referencing the city. Nobody takes the brunt of being the scapegoat more t

    July 25, 2014

  • CCC thanks community, collaborators for successful movie night Clinton Community College would like to thank those who participated in the free outdoor movie showing of “Captain America – Winter Soldier” on the evening of Friday, July 18.We are grateful to have such wonderful community collaborators in the Erick

    July 25, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook