The Effects Of Competition In Sports On Children Ages Nine Through Twelve

3178 words - 13 pages

Over the years, the growth and changes in children's sports have reflected the popularity of professional sports in our society. Sports games and sports news are available to the public twenty-four hours a day on television and the Internet even the radio. Due in part to this, schools and other organizations have changed American athletics from more of a fun playtime to intense competition. The effect of competition in youth sports on children has been the subject of much criticism and praise by physicians, psychologists and parents for years. Many people feel competition can be very beneficial and are strong supporters of competition amongst young children. These people claim that competitive sports aid in the development of social skills, problem solving skills, health fitness and psychological well-being. Many feel that a child's character and morals can be greatly improved through competitive sports. On the other hand, competition can have potentially devastating effects on our nation's youth. There is, of course, the very real possibility of harmful physical injuries. Children are often humiliated and ashamed upon losing, which can be damaging to their self-esteem. Another problem with competition in young children, particularly nine to twelve year olds, is the parental pressure that so often accompanies it. Plenty of children have been pressured and forced by their parents to compete in sports at a young age, to the point where they burn out later in life. The positive and negative effects that competition can have on children ages nine through twelve has been a topic debated by experts for years.Competition can be defined in many different ways for different situations. In the context of youth sports, competition is defined as a social process occurring when one's actions are performed for the purpose of achieving a goal or meeting set standards where their performance is compared to others' and sometimes for the purpose of winning a prize or recognition (Vallerand, Gauvin and Halliwell, 1986). But others have a different idea of what competition means. Siedentop (1994) believes that competition is instinctive to humans. Any time a game is played, some form of competition occurs. Competition occurs continually throughout a child's day, both in the classroom, at play and at home between siblings, but perhaps the most intense form of competition can be found in sports and athletic programs. Children can compete as an individual, as part of a team, or both. An example of competing in both ways is swimming. A swimmer competes individually for the best times, but their score also contributes to the overall team score. The main thing that all competitors have in common is the strong desire to triumph over their opponents. The age at which competition begins to be appropriate for children is controversial and not easily agreed upon in the parenting and athletic worlds. Developmentally, children under the age of nine are not ready for competition....

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