Sports (or sporting activities) is any forms of usually strenuous physical activity that, through organised or casual participation, attempt to use, develop or maintain skill and/or physical aptitude while also providing entertainment for participants, and sometimes, spectators. There are a wide range of different types of sporting activities including contact sports (football, rugby, basketball, softball, ice hockey), fitness activities (diving, swimming, aerobics), gymnastics, motor-bicycle racing, cricket, soccer, tennis and the list goes on. In the US alone, there are estimated to be over 2.5 million registered amateur athletes.
One of the most common examples of a sport that is regularly played and practiced by teenagers and children is swimming. It is a great physical activity, highly rewarding socially and intellectually, and a great opportunity for social interaction. A large number of Americans enjoy a daily swim to stay in shape and in the summer months, many take part in competitive swimming events at public or private swimming facilities. In fact, swimming has even become so popular with middle schools and high schools that many of them are actively involved in organized swim teams.
Another example of one of the many types of sports that young people participate in is gymnastics. This physical activity develops many aspects of physical skills in addition to self-confidence and self-esteem. Young gymnasts learn how to balance, toss and release various Olympic-type apparatus, all while improving their motor skills, and their self-confidence. Gymnastics is also a valuable competitive sport for both girls and boys and many high school and college teams offer gymnastics as part of their sports programs.
One more example of physical activities that can lead to sports injuries or the development of conditions such as “sports elbow” or “sprain” is tennis. Tennis players usually have to withstand a lot of physical stress in their sports activities, which can cause unnecessary wear and tear on their muscles, tendons and ligaments. And, unfortunately, tennis players can also suffer from “heat exhaustion” after being out on the tennis court for several hours. Heat exhaustion is a very common sports injury that can make it difficult for a tennis player to return to play in a short period of time, especially if they need to rest to ease the pain.
Although many of these examples of physical activity are considered to be safe for recreational use or for light exercise, it is important for everyone to consider the possible hazards of participating in any physical activity that puts added stress on the body. Especially when it comes to participating in extreme sports or other physically demanding sports, it is important to seek the advice of a physician or other qualified professional before engaging in any new physical activity. This is especially true for athletes who might be concerned about developing an athletic condition that makes them vulnerable to a sports related injury.
As parents, it is our responsibility to make sure our children are getting adequate physical activity every day. But, we must be even more diligent in making sure our children are not unnecessarily exposing themselves to sports injuries that could greatly limit their participation in other extracurricular activities or affect their academic performance in school. By keeping abreast of the latest information on sports injuries and preventing ourselves and our children from being unnecessarily exposed to sports injuries, we can give our children a much better chance at having a fun and healthy experience in sports. Keeping up to date on the latest information on sports injuries, both for athletes and for the general public, should become a priority for parents of middle schools and high schools as well as for concerned parents of elementary school children.