put me in coach, I'm ready to play (watadoo) Thu 16 Aug 07 18:32
In 1972, 87 percent of children who lived within a mile of school walked or biked daily; today, just 13 percent of children get to school under their own power, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a significant parallel, before 1980, only 5 percent of children were obese; today that figure has tripled, says the CDC. [...]<<< thank gopod for the excelent free health care in the US. oops, I forgot. This Regan, is called topic drift. heh The question is how to break the cycle. I let my boy and his pals ride their bikes down to Rheem valley, 6 miles away to go to a movie or hit the community pool. We eased into this, mainly around car/bike saftey issues. but I know other parents who are horrified that i let my boy act like a 11 year old in the summer time. One reason that Ethan can't hook up with too many other kids in the summer to just screw around with is that most of the kids from his school are in "camps" all summer. glorified ay care, essentially to make it so both their parents can work or for single parents who have no choice but to work. It's a complex set of issues. playing club sports all summer helps fill in a lot of that free time. Both in a supervisory AND a social way. I'm in a blessedly lucky situation and far be it for me to judge any who can't make the same choices I have.
I dare you to make less sense! (jet) Thu 16 Aug 07 19:47
Sorry, I wasn't thinking drift as much as, "whatever happened to kids getting exercise outside of team sports"?
put me in coach, I'm ready to play (watadoo) Thu 16 Aug 07 22:20
exactly. riding bikes, taking hikes, going down to the school yard and shooting some hoops or just screwing around.
put me in coach, I'm ready to play (watadoo) Thu 16 Aug 07 22:30
I really feel sorry for this generation of kids. They are missing out on so much due to their parent's over attentiveness and pushing for success and glory.
errant thoughts of redheaded mischief (izzie) Thu 16 Aug 07 23:20
coming to the discussion a little late (and Regan, while I'm not quite done, I really like your book and keep saying uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh while reading along), but I just want to caution that of course not *all* parents are preventing their kids from having that childhood alot of us remember!
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Thu 16 Aug 07 23:30
Good point Izze, and bravo for those parents. I know it can tough to buck the trend. Or maybe it's easy for some who see clearly and aren't infleuced by what others are caught up in. I agree that kids need more free play. It's creative. You learn valuable things like conflict resolution. You discover things. I hope more parents will come back to seeing value in it. Kids need more time outdoors, down the block, in the park, out in nature. Bike sales are way down. It's just sad that U.S. kids aren't riding their bikes around the neighborhood. People say it's a safety issue, but it's even the case in gated communities with manicured playgrounds, so there's clearly something going on in the culture.
Lisa Harris (lrph) Fri 17 Aug 07 06:05
I just read that about the bike sales being down. Last year I was horrified by the fact that although it is written in the school handbook that we are not allowed to send candy in our kids' lunchboxes, teachers still use candy as a reward for good behavior and good test scores. I complained, but nothing was done because I had no solution to offer. This summer I decided that I will remind the principal that the best reward for all of the hard work we expect of our kids would be FREE TIME TO PLAY! while I agree that stickers stop being effective after 3rd or 4th grade, free time to hang out with friends and play and run is PRICELESS and highly motivating for everyone. I also agree with <izzie> about not ALL parents being like those in Regan's book. I, in fact, am not anything like those parents. I wish there were more parents that would let their kids play freely around here, but alas, there are only a few. Fact is, the more parents that stop lamenting and start allowing, the safer it will become for the kids. More kids out playing means that they're out there together watching out for each other yelling "CAR" for one another's safety and running to so-and-so's house to get his mom when he scrapes his knee. Ooh, what a concept!
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Fri 17 Aug 07 07:37
Freeplay as a reward is a great idea! My daughter's school does sometimes give an exrtra recess as a reward. But I was shocked, like you, when her first-grade teacher gave out M&Ms and red vines as mini-rewards in the classroom. I know freplay is my preferred reward. I rather thave time off than overtime pay.
put me in coach, I'm ready to play (watadoo) Fri 17 Aug 07 07:52
That's brilliant and so in front of our noses. Seems to me the worst punishment Ethan has ever had at his school for screwing around instead of doing classwork, the punishment he's complained most bitterly about has been to miss recess to sit in the classroom and finish his work.
Lisa Harris (lrph) Fri 17 Aug 07 09:42
Right, but I like to see it as a reward, rather than as a punishment. Basically the same thing, but the spin makes it more palatable to the kids, I think. So, Regan, this will be my Revolution.
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 17 Aug 07 10:03
Scott MacFarlane (s-macfarlane) Fri 17 Aug 07 10:14
This issue of "freeplay" reminds me of how sports were engaged when I was a kid in the '60s growing up in a town of 12,000. Our sports play prior to 8th grade was mostly sandlot with ragtag gear, or, less frequently, baseball, basketball and football with, at most, one adult for the entire rec program. We had fun. The best of us (not I) went on to college scholarships. One of us came one cut away from making the NBA. The regimentation of how children participate in sports is a concern. But isn't the core issue that Regan is addressing with clubs not unlike workaholism? Those parents (and coaches), as organizers of this phenomenon, have created an expected level of participation that is deliterious to the intent. In the workforce, how often have we seen people working 60 plus hours a week and running on fumes, burning out, and ultimately less productive than those workers allowed to pace themselves more reasonably? Regan is correct to insist that change must come from the parents, collectively, to establish more reasonable guidelines. As for the pervasive fear we have grown to have for our children's safety, this mirrors similar manifestations in the larger society. There is currently an irrational reaction in our culture to public safety as a whole. We see this in our responses to a overzealous Homeland Security, the elusive and perpetual War on Terror, overreactions to a sensationalizing media, etc. However, much more significant than these factors in the change of childhood play behavior is the rise of electronic "play." The "cocooning" of children with their electronic devices--cell phones, I-pods, DVDs, Gameboys, Nintendos, X-Boxes, and computers--best explains a growing lack of physical exercise in our children. On-line interaction becomes a substitute for direct play. There are so many of these contemporary diversions within the house that dissuade children from venturing outside to find their friends. Club sports, despite their shortfall, are one healthy alternative to the consequences of electronic cocooning, except that time-taxed parents often resort to fast food dinners with their greasy calory-laden simplicity. Heck, most American families with two working parents resort to fast food eating. Of course the larger question of why club sports evolved is related, in part, to our growing fear of our streets and our parks. Ultimately, this is a fear of one another. Gated communities and club exclusivity are not healthy indicators of a free society, but of a paranoid aristocracy. Electronics, fast food, fear of one another, of failure as parents, elitism, overindulged kids--the problem is systemic. Club sports are here to stay, but for me, I will always root, anyday, for the barefoot Tijuana Futbol team over the Los Gatos/BeverlyHills/Lake Oswego/Mercer Island/Scottsdale/Port Washington/RichKid Elite squads.
Ludo, Ergo Sum (robertflink) Fri 17 Aug 07 10:57
>a symptom of the overall malaise of fear-parenting and social management.< This reminded me that in many,very traditional, parts of the world parents and the larger tribe have been doing just that for time beyond memory. Perhaps the opposite could be considered a malaise if the broad sweep of history is to be any test. Honor-killing has to have its roots in something. BTW, I understand that the most reliable predictor of individual development is the peer group.
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Fri 17 Aug 07 17:25
i agree that plugged-in play is a big factor in the lack of freelay outdoors. I highly recommend the book "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Adult deficit Disorder" by Richard Louve. His book has spawned a movement to get kids back outside in the natural world to explore the world and learn about themselves in realtion to it. His book has spawned a whole movement whose whose wonderful slogan is "No Child Left Inside."
errant thoughts of redheaded mischief (izzie) Fri 17 Aug 07 18:17
My 13-yr old who hardly ever did any sports at all until last year (8th grade) was just sidelined in Cross Country this afternoon for a flare-up of Severs Disease in his left foot. Coach told him he still needs to come to practice every day, and still needs to at least jog the course as best he can (so as not to lose what little conditioning he has) but he's not to run, and is to stop and head back down the course if it gets bad. Bennett isn't gung-ho about it, but he's in pain and Coach has him convinced that being a team Manager isn't a bad thing and that'll he be running again much sooner if he takes a break now. I (heart) Coach Kimball. and I wish more coaches were like that, especially I think for growing-kid repetitive-use injuries.
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Fri 17 Aug 07 18:49
Ack-- I see I typo'd Richard Louv's name. No e. A telling quote from a San Diego fourth-grader he interviewed about outisde vs. inside play: "I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are."
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Fri 17 Aug 07 18:53
Hey, Izzie, is jogging good when you have a flare up of Sever's Disease? Would staying off it make it heal faster or better? How is jogging "taking a break"?
errant thoughts of redheaded mischief (izzie) Fri 17 Aug 07 22:07
Regan, he can "jog" which for my kid means a mellow walking pace. He has a slight limp, and clearly favors his, uh, I think, right foot (I don't get to live with him so I'm winging that part). His coach, the team trainers, and his naturopath MD have all said that normal heel-strike is okay, but that it's just the pounding from running that's bad. My kid, for all his wonderfulness, is not an uber-atheletic guy. If it hurts to a wince, he'll stop and at least reconsider whatever it is he's doing. The trainer says to take ibu; the naturpath and I came up with an herbal soak, and his dad is timing how long he keeps it elevated and iced, as needed. School actually starts next week, and everyone in our town of 5,000 knows that the highschool needs my kid on his horn for marching band. If he can't walk, he can't march. So everyone involved is really helping encourage him to do what the docs, Coach, and trainers say.
put me in coach, I'm ready to play (watadoo) Fri 17 Aug 07 23:29
The regimentation of how children participate in sports is a concern. But isn't the core issue that Regan is addressing with clubs not unlik workaholism? Those parents (and coaches), as organizers of this phenomenon, have created an expected level of participation that is deliterious to the intent. In the workforce, how often have we seen people working 60 plus hours a week and running on fumes, burning out, and ultimately less productive than those workers allowed to pace themselves more reasonably?<<<< That is the click moment. Workaholic parent transferring their malaise onto their kids. It's not productive to generalize, but it is a symptom I've seen (and as an active type A 60 hour a week kind of guy, trying to make sure that I let my boyo, be enjoy his tween years like i did) make every effort to avoid. Good luck to Bennet, Izzie. I ran cross country in high school and I had this wonderful crusty old coach, Don Phillips. I came down with a bad case of shin splints after running around 12 miles on asphalt. i could barely walk and it hurt like crazy. Coach phillips had me sit out practice by way of jogging barefoot around the soccer field. This being the early 70's soccer had no respecdt and it got the louse, pooor drainage field -- meaning it was wet and schmushy and like running on sand. Coach Phillips knew his stuff and my shin splint were gone withing 2 days never to return.
Lisa Harris (lrph) Sat 18 Aug 07 07:25
I hope Bennett is up and marching soon. I like the workaholic analogy a lot. I'll use that.
Lisa Everitt (lisa) Sat 18 Aug 07 09:26
I think that's very true -- just another way we project our neuroses onto our children.
errant thoughts of redheaded mischief (izzie) Sat 18 Aug 07 12:13
I turned down a page in the book because it struck me as a different twist to this problem. The quote: "If high school and college teams give preference to club players, then ipso facto they're favoring the privileged over the disadvantaged, widening the gap between rich and poor in an arena that used to serve as a great equalizer." That made me wonder if that might not be *why* some of the elite club things happened in the first place, and might not be part of the draw. Can't have the little princess playing ball with those children who don't look like us! A little later in the book though, you talk about how some colleges and highschools are seeing children, pitchers I think, as already used-up with repetitive strain injuries and the like, largely from club sports. Is that a backlash? Will the streetball/stickball players one day have an edge again, because they don't have surgical scars at 15 years old?
Lisa Harris (lrph) Sat 18 Aug 07 13:15
I think it means that they still DO have the edge. The way I read it, the coaches prefer well-rounded, uninjured athletes. That seems to point away fromt he club-team kids and toward the rec center/street/high-school athelete.
Regan McMahon (r-mcmahon) Sat 18 Aug 07 20:48
What I learned in my research was that the pro scouts were turning away from baseball players in the West because they feared their arms wouldn't last as long as those of players who had breaks in thier schedules, like kids who live in cold climates who take the winter off from baseball. No evidence that I know of that they would turn to street ball players. They recurit players from colleges and high schools ... and of course from various Latin American and Carribbean countries. But in baseball, many kids still make their high school teams after only playing rec (Little League, Babe Ruth). Just in the past few years has baseball started to go the way of club soccer, with something called Xtreme Baseball, which plays through the summer with lots of travel, including plane travel. My friend's son lives in Oakland and last summer he was playing games in Tennessee and Arizona. It seems ridiculous, and a pursuit only for the wealthy. She did not have him do that this summer.
Lisa Everitt (lisa) Mon 20 Aug 07 10:15
Regan, how is the book being accepted, out there in the world? Are you doing many media appearances or signings, and what are you hearing from people?
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