When you were younger can you remember all of the activities you participated in? Football, netball, hockey, rounders, cricket; the children of today are given the opportunity to do all of these but do they have the support of the teachers and, more importantly, their parents?

Today, those of primary school age are given the opportunity to play many different sports, but they are also given the option to not participate. Although I’m only 17, and have only just finished the year of lower-sixth, when I was in primary school I had to participate in sports, you weren’t given the option not to. However, I think the root of the problem stems from the ‘overprotective parent’ syndrome, afraid that if they let their child play sports – such as football or hockey – they will hurt themselves. But this only makes the children scared of participating! If parents are scared of something, then it’s more than likely going to rub off on their children. I played many sports at a younger age, and I pride myself in the fact that I was the only girl in the cricket team! Yes, it was hard, and I did get a couple of bruises, but that was all part of it; my teachers and parents endorsed physical activities, which made me want to do them all the more.

By giving the children ‘opt out’ situations, they could be missing out on something they might actually enjoy. To tell children that it’s okay to not partake in sports, one might as well be feeding them chocolate bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Sport and physical activities make a child’s lifestyle healthier, and overall, better. Children’s social skills will improve from working in a team; sports and exercise  also releases endorphins, making children happier individuals. By endorsing sport, parents and teachers could be raising the next Mo Farah or Jessica Ennis. If parents or teachers fail to endorse sport, then they are breaking the ‘athlete’ spirit and drive; the same drive that the Olympic legacy is trying to improve.

The rise of technology has led to a decrease in young people getting into sports. Games consoles, such as the Xbox, are responsible for keeping children inside, rather than seeing them grab a football and go to the park for a kickabout. I understand that the Wii console and the Xbox Connect have ‘revolutionised’ the gaming industry when it comes to physical activity, and after battling my sister in Wii tennis, I was a little fatigued. However, after a while I found that I could achieve the same result by laying across the sofa with a cup of tea and reading the newspaper, all whilst swinging the remote in my hand. I was reminded of this fact when asked to help with Sports Day, and I saw that one of the competitions was ‘Wii games’. On Sports Day (as I remember it), you would pick one or two events from the athletics category, you would partake in your event, and then, at the end of the day, sit on the field and watch and cheer on the relay teams. But, as I walked into the hall, a group of boys were playing ‘Mario Kart Wii’, and on the other side of the room girls were on dance mats! I don’t quite recall when dance mats and Mario Kart got into the Olympics? It confuses me to think that SPORTS day should contain anything but… well sport.

This is something that I am quite passionate about, and I believe that the future of grassroots sport lies in the hands of the parents. If you want your children to be healthy and happy, then take them to the local leisure centre. Leisure centres cater for all ages, and vary from rock climbing to swimming to rugby, and most of them are reasonably priced. I can guarantee the children of today would be happier, if they would only be allowed by their overprotective parents to get involved in sports. They would learn so much from it. I have been playing sports for as long as I can remember, and it has never been a bad experience, I love going to training on a Wednesday night and playing on a Saturday. Some of the best times of my life have been with sport, winning or losing. Parents remember the good times your children can gain from it – or inevitably miss out on, if they remain discouraged…

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