Benefits of Youth Sports
Given the realities of childhood obesity and heart disease in the U.S. many people support youth sports as part of the core curriculum, but recognize a need for systemic reform. In schools, they support a curriculum that provides innovative physical activities instead of the traditional programs that have shown to be unpopular and unsuccessful, a program promoting individual accountability and physical activities which provide success for every student.
Getting all students involved in youth sport activities and committed to physical activity outside the classroom often proves difficult in the traditional classroom. Research papers have examined students’ ongoing expression of dislike for physical education. One such paper used Foucalt’s theory to explain the failure of teacher driven curriculum, which is power driven by the teacher and administration and therefore inherently leads to resistance behaviors on the part of the student. In this instance, the possible opportunities for physical education to increase outside activity were not only null but mitigated as some of the students exclaimed that their physical education classes discouraged any desire to be physically active or to explore new physical activities. The indication from this research is that individuals who are more power driven, more organizationally and less student centered in their approach, will have less success in achieving student outcome goals, which would likely heighten stress and lower morale.
Research reinforces this concept in his work on student motivation in which he suggests that student fail because teachers use coercive methods which fail to promote caring. Instead our writers advocated a Choice Theory, which teaches children to be active participants in their own learning and that they have the power to choose their own actions. This is readily applicable to the current public health initiatives for physical education, in which intimidation and authoritarian methods have not been successful in promoting the kind of lifelong behavior that students must ultimately realize is their own choice.
Historically, it is unclear when the first instance of youth sports activity occurred. More than likely, all children as they grow and develop tend to engage in activities that are similar to the activities of sports. They run, jump, and throw even when the action is not competitive. It is equally difficult to determine when adults began participating in non-work physical activities. Evidence from all civilizations reveal that sports were participated in from the earliest of times. For example, “archaeological evidence … indicates that ball games were common among the ancient Chinese”.
There is ample evidence that sports existed in the ancient world. Pharaohs often put on exhibitions to demonstrate their ability as archers. Often, such demonstrations were intended to show that they were fit to rule. Amenhotep II, who ruled Egypt from 1450 to 1425 BC, often exhibited his remarkable athletic ability without any competitors. The commoners of Egypt also participated in sporting contests, such as stick fights and ball games.
Cretan youth also appear to have participated in sports. They often displayed acrobatic skills in events with bulls. Sports were especially significant in Greece. Ancient records indicate that sports in this country had both religious and secular meanings. In the Iliad, there is a discussion regarding the games that were played at Patroclus’s funeral. Additionally, Odysseus demonstrates his athletic abilities to the Phaeacians in the Odyssey.
Of course, it was in Greece that the Olympic Games originated. They were not only secular contests but also a way of honoring the god, Zeus. These events date back as far as 776 BC. Other games were held in honor of other gods and goddesses, such as Apollo. Periodos was the name given to describe the four most prominent events or games. Athletes who won all four were greatly admired. Most cities in Greece contained a gymnasium for local athletes. This was the site at which athletes trained and competed, generally for money. Few athletes were considered to be amateurs.