Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Leveling the playing field gets harder every year

TanyaPerezW

By
May 11, 2011 |

Sometimes I think of a column topic that almost could write itself — meaning I have well-formed thoughts and opinions about the subject, so all I have to do is sit and type.

This isn’t one of those topics.

Alas, the subject of kids and sports is one on which I have a million opinions, and organizing them into a logical, flowing story is hopeless. Instead, here’s a trip through my cluttered thought process.

I’m of the mind that team sports are very useful for children. Besides creating a habit of regular exercise, sports teach kids how to win and lose. Stress and depression are lessened, and studies show youths are less likely to take drugs, use alcohol or smoke. It’s hard to argue with those benefits.

Sports also offer a lot of fun. Hanging out with teammates at practices and cheering for/being cheered for by your friends is a good time.

(Seems like I’m heading toward a “but…” doesn’t it?)

But … I recently watched an episode of PBS’ “Frontline” called “Football High” which aired in April. One of the main points of the documentary, which followed some high school football teams in Arkansas, was about concussions and brain damage. It was a frightening look at head trauma in children.

The point that I couldn’t shake after viewing the show, however, relates to the death of one child and hospitalization of another due to heat stroke (from the show’s transcripts, a great service PBS provides):

Narrator: The two players had both passed out on the field after practicing in the blistering August heat.

Eric Capp, Ozark High School assistant coach: We had almost a three-week span where it was over 100 degrees every day, so you do try to take extra caution. It does make you think a little bit when it’s that hot outside.

Interviewer: But you still practice?

Eric Capp: Oh, you have to practice. You know, have to practice to be ready for the season to start. So yeah, we don’t — we don’t cancel practice because of the heat.

You “have to” practice? “Have to?!” Why do you have to? Because the other teams are practicing.

Remember what I said earlier about hanging out with your teammates at practice being a good time? I’m thinking these 100-degree, heat-stroke-inducing practices don’t offer much in the way of fun.

B.J. Maack of the Arkansas Athletic Trainers’ Association admits that “keeping up with the Joneses” is a prime motivator in athletics, which — getting back to my muddled feelings — could not be less of a motivator for me.

In a similar vein, ESPN.com columnist Gregg Easterbrook said on “Frontline,” “As recently as 20 years ago, it was pretty rare to find a high school offensive lineman who weighed more than 220, maybe 230. Now a lot of high schools, all their starting offensive linemen weigh more than 300 pounds.”

“Frontline” went on to say that the high school football teams they followed train 12 months a year. There is no off-season for these kids. And they all work out with weights now, which helps them reach the “rare” sizes of 300 pounds.

My husband often says, regarding his college baseball career in the 1980s, that if coaches had known players could seriously increase their strength by lifting weights, he would have been a much better ballplayer. But would he have had as much fun if the game — game! — involved 12 months of training and the intensity of military boot camp?

My younger son plays soccer nine months out of the year, which I’m not sure isn’t overkill, plus he also plays Little League. My husband and I constantly evaluate if this is the right thing for an 11-year-old child. We want him to have fun with sports, and all that they offer.

But will he burn out at a young age? And what about the increase in sports-related injuries because kids are overdoing?

Still, you can’t play “at the next level” — a regularly moving target — if you don’t play more competitively and practice all year long. Heck, you can’t even really enjoy the sport if you are consistently the worst player on the team because you don’t attend special camps, clinics and sessions with private coaches. See what I mean about my cluttered thought process?

The movie “The Race to Nowhere” was all the rage in Davis last year as parents thoughtfully considered the toll so much pressure to excel was placing on their kids. But I don’t think we’re practicing what we preach, in part because we’re still keeping up with the Joneses.

I wish that Jones family would move.

— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column runs every other Thursday. Reach her at tperez@davisenterprise.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/enterprisetanya

Comments

comments

.

News

Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Researchers solve mystery of Death Valley’s moving rocks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
California extends review of $25B delta plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Assembly approves statewide ban on plastic bags

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Forum explores local mental health services

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Equestrian eventing competition slated

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

 
 
Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Free blood pressure screenings offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
Books, conversation and poetry at Logos

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Forum

Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

 
Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

What if we need MRAP?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

 
How could tank be helpful?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

Don’t sentence our police to death

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2, 1 Comment

 
Will Davis see river water?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

Travel buddy is getting too fat

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
.

Sports

Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devils scrimmage with Sac

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

 
.

Features

.

Arts

‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

.

Business

Technology makes a great car better

By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Margarita Elizondo

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Elaine Dracia Greenberg

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics