Youth Sports: Passion v. Safety


Photo credit: Megan Burtraw © 2011

Horizon Honors alumnus Dominick Chavez attempts to make a shot at a past basketball game. The physicality of sports makes people wonder if they are worth the risk.

Lauren Arenas, Student Opinion Editor

On Nov. 13, a young high school football player from Hopi High School was pronounced dead. The cause of death: a traumatic brain injury that he received while playing in a playoff game. News of the boy’s death has shook not only his community, but sports lovers everywhere. Although already a topic of debate, people have been paying more attention to the risk of youth sports compared to the benefits that they may provide.

There is no doubt that playing sports is dangerous. Every sport comes with its own set of risks and potential dangers that result from playing the game. Although equipment for sports are constantly being analyzed, there is no way to ensure that people will not get hurt. There is always the possibility of injuries, and even deaths; people are left to wonder if it is worth the liability.

The danger of sports is evident, but there is a difference between adults putting themselves at risk and children being coerced into joining a sport. Children are much more susceptible to the influences of society and the people around them. They are taught that playing sports is a positive experience, and they should try to be the best that they can be. Is it right that children feel pressured into playing sports? Most people would say no, but they might not understand the inspiration that the children feel when they see their favorite sports players on television.

When children are under the age of ten, chances are that their sports teams aren’t going to be too competitive, but as time goes on, more dedication is required from the players. Sports become a way of life. Practice every day, games on weekends, and constant hours spent mulling over plays. The more invested youths become in their sports, the more likely they are to risk their safety for a game. Yes, sports are dangerous, but does that mean that people shouldn’t encourage their kids to participate?

Absolutely not. I have been playing sports for as long as I can remember, and I know that I would not be the person I am today without them. My dad is very sports oriented and he had always pushed me to participate in sports. This may seem like somewhat of a pressure situation, but I have always loved being an athlete. Sports are a great way to build friendships and teach kids to truly invest in something. Hard work and commitment are rewarded through sports.

No one is going to argue that children are perfectly safe playing sports. But are children perfectly safe doing anything? They are more likely to die from a car accident than from a sports related injury. There are always going to be risks in life. Whether physical or psychological, it is important to show children that sometimes, the risks are worth it. Playing a sport can greatly contribute to the development of children, teaching them skills that they will use for the remainder of their lives.