SPORTS PLAYS A POSITIVE ROLE IN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Research shows that in addition to improved physical health, sports plays a primarily positive role in youth development, including improved academic achievement, higher self-esteem, fewer behavioral problems, and better interaction between social and psychological factors.
The many facets of playing sports, the discipline of training, learning teamwork, following the leadership of coaches, and even learning to lose, provide lifelong coping skills. Especially in this new age of youths spending so much more time playing with electronic games and cell phones, getting involved in sports can be overlooked.
Teaching sports for over 20 years, we at Zacharatos Karate Kickboxing/MMA & Soccer, have seen how the benefits of sports have positively impacted the lives of our students, beyond just learning the skills of a specific sport.
CONCUSSIONS IN YOUTH SPORTS
As a pro MMA referee & judge with the California State Athletic Commission, Coach Zacharatos was required to take an online course at Heads Up for youth sports to learn about concussions. We found the information informative and thought we’d pass it on to you, especially if your child is involved in any sports and gets a blow to the head.
Studies estimate that nearly 50% of high school football players suffered concussions, 35% suffered at least two. But the developing adolescent brain needs time to recover.
In the last 15 years, the children who suffered severe life-altering or fatal injuries, in almost every instance, the youth attempted to hide the symptoms of the concussion to keep playing. But this tragic outcome can easily be avoided by having some helpful information on the subject.
Every brain injury is different and some symptoms appear right away, but others may not show up for days or weeks after, so it’s hard to recognize or admit the child is having problems. Yet, one more hit to the head with an existing concussion is very dangerous. If a coach tells you to “walk it off” or a child insists they’re fine after a blow to the head, even if it’s difficult,stand up to them, pull your child out of the game and go to the doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry considering what’s at stake.
Some symptoms to look for are: *One pupil larger than the other, *Drowsiness or inability to wake up, *Headache that gets worse or won’t go away, *Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination, *Repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures. Rest is key to help the brain heal, and return slowly to both mental and physical activities, in order to make a full recovery.
For more info: https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/youthsports/
ATHLETIC CODE OF ETHICS FOR YOUTH SPORTS
I was filling out the Athletic packet for our daughter Nico who is on the Calabasas high school tennis team, and was pleased to see some of the same training philosophies that we’ve taught in our studio regarding sports. We call it rules and regulations, they called it the Athletic Code of Ethics.
Master Zacharatos always tells our students when competing in martial arts or any sport, you have to be a good winner and loser, don’t make excuses if you don’t do well, give your opponent credit. I liked how the code of ethics stated a similar sentiment, “Win with character and lose with dignity”
Watching Wimbledon tennis this summer, it has been a great example to see how gracious the winners and losers speeches are after the finals. Professional sports should set a positive example for our youth. Some other highlights in the code of ethics that mirror what we teach in martial arts are, to show respect for your teammates as well as your opponents, officials and coaches, and to exhibit fair play, sportsmanship, and proper conduct on and off the field.
I thought it was important that they also had a parent code in the Athletic Code of Ethics.
When we have karate or soccer tournaments, we always tell our students that win or lose, the most important thing is that you participated, tried your best, and had fun, you didn’t just sit on the sidelines, you were part of it.
The parent code also echoed that when they said to make sure your child knows that win or lose you appreciate their efforts and are not disappointed in them if they lose. (we’ve seen a few over the top parents at competitions over the years that would benefit from the code of ethics).
Another good point they make is to be honest about your child’s athletic capability, competitive attitude, sportsmanship, and actual skill level. Something we assess when we get a new student. We know skill levels and potential will vary, but we always tell our students, you don’t have to be the best, but we expect you to always try your best, and whatever level you’re starting at, you’ll improve with practice. The code also stated how important it is not to compare your child with other teammates, especially in front of them, and to not discuss your child with the coach on a game day, set up another time to talk.
We always teach our students that advancement in your sport is earned by hard work, once in a while we see parents try to negotiate a short cut way around that, or parents tell us some soccer coaches favor certain kids rather than give everyone a fair chance, which takes away from the kids that earned their spot on the team. Rewards in sports should be earned and based on merit alone, the same as a grade on a math test for example.
A parent recently told me a story about her son’s unfortunate experience with sports at a private high school. His passion has always been basketball, and he’s played for years, and she’d love to go watch him play. But it got so bad at the school, where kids were even repeating a year of school so they’d be older and bigger for the advantage, that he felt he had no choice but to quit. What should have been a great high school experience in sports for him is now gone.
If only those parents and coaches would actually put kids first, so all kids would have the chance to have a positive experience being on a sports team, based on fairness and merit, and not on finding ways to cheat the system. Luckily that’s not every students experience, and there are great coaches and parents as well. Our daughter had a great experience on the tennis team that has enriched her high school experience, by being part of a team, making new friends, training hard and setting goals. But hopefully if enough people speak out about it when negative things do happen, changes can be made.
When parents, coaches, and students can all on the same page about having a code of honor and respect in sports, being involved in sports can be one of the most rewarding, enriching, positive, social skill and confidence building experience, with lifetime benefits for your child.