This town sure is sports-crazed

Anyone who claims kids don’t play sports anymore should have been at the Memorial Sports Centre over the weekend.
The pool was a bustle of activity with the Winter Chill Invitational swim meet, a Bantam ‘A’ boys’ hockey tournament was running all weekend on both ice surfaces, and, of course, the Muskie boys’ hockey team and the Midget ‘AA’ Canadians had several games sandwiched in between.
There are a lot of parents nowadays with schedules so packed running their kids to practices and games that it makes you tired just hearing about it. Many kids are multi-sport athletes, and play year-round, enjoying it not just for the competition but for the recreation and fitness, too.
The prospect of “athlete burnout” has been touched upon in this column previously, but playing a variety of sports and keeping things fresh was one of the factors preventing that condition from ever festering here.
There’s always a concern that parents who push their kids into “specialization,” where kids focus all their skills on one sport and endure year-round training, can lead to burnout and potential injuries, but the number of smiles and excited faces far outnumbered the frowns and head-shakers last weekend—and it certainly gives hope to the longevity of sports in this town and elsewhere.
Of course, things weren’t perfect. Unfortunately, emotions boiled over in several hockey games, which led to stick swinging and scuffles, but at that age when the hormones are in overdrive, things like that inevitably tend to happen.
But the fact remains: not all kids are giving up the hockey stick for the joystick just yet.
According to a report conducted by CNN last year, the number of children involved in youth sports has risen significantly over the last 10-20 years. “In just about every sport, there’s been an increase,” said Dr. Steve Carney, a professor of sport management at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Of course, the popularity of soccer has skyrocketed throughout North America, but even off-beat sports like skateboarding and snowboarding, in which kids participate rather than compete, have grown substantially.
There have been reports that once popular sports, like baseball and tennis, have seen a decline in favour of newer, “cooler” sports, or alternatives like golf, and that may be true.
But there can’t be any doubt that sport participation, on the whole, has seen a sharp surge in recent years—and that certainly bodes well for the health and wellness of today’s kids.

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