Should Sports Be Required? (page 2)

Should Sports Be Required?

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Updated on Jan 28, 2008

Instead, he says the trend towards healthier physical fitness programs will have to be delivered through grass-roots campaigns, by developing community-based programs that are open to everyone and contain elements of informal games, and other forms of play.

Coakley says a big piece of this puzzle is rethinking the way we look at physical fitness in our children; it's not just about those competitive team sports, it's about experiencing a wide range of movement activities—be it skateboarding, tumbling, or even interactive video games like Wii. In fact, this is how Coakley says the future of sport will be: a combination of technology and movement. “I think we're going to see kids in virtual spaces, putting on head gear that gives them 360 degree view of an environment that they'll negotiate physically,” he says. “We need to think creatively: What do we want in terms of human movement for our children?”

How can you negotiate this new concept of movement into your child's life? Coakley says parents who have children enrolled in the more rigid programs should let their children retire if they want, and instead focus on having a blast with a range of physical activities. “Let them engage in spontaneous play and give them opportunities to experiment with the relationship between their bodies,” he says. For kids less than enthusiastic about physical fitness, he says parents should talk about their other interests and “find out how those things overlap with movement, and how to hook kids up.”

American children need to be more physically active, and their communities are in a unique position to provide them with programs that instill the values of fitness through positive experience. And, those are the kinds that last a lifetime.

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