Competitive Athletics for Children of Elementary School Age
Competitive sports sponsored by schools or other community agencies are now so universally played by boys and girls 13 years old and younger that there is a compelling need for positive and realistic guidelines to govern participation.
Young children are not miniature adults; they are boys and girls in the process of maturing into adults. They seek and can profit from suitable play opportunities, but the benefits do not come without prudent planning. High quality supervision and a broad range of physical education activities, including sports adapted to the needs and capacities of growing children, are required for a full realization of benefits.
A sound physical education program includes a variety of competitive and recreational sports to guarantee that all children in the school system or community have a fair share of available funds, facilities, instruction, and leadership. A varied sports program provides a meaningful experience for all children, not just the physically gifted, the well developed, or the precocious.
Sports have important effects on stamina and physiologic functioning, and some have lifelong value as recreational activities. These positive aspects should be emphasized in athletic programs by encouraging sports that are appropriate for children of elementary school age. These sports include bowling, golf, skating, swimming, tennis, and running.
There is no physical reason to separate preadolescent children by sex in sports, physical education, and recreational activities. However, girls should not participate against pubertal and postpubescent boys in heavy collision sports because of the risk of serious injury due to their lesser muscle mass per unit of body weight.
- Copyright © 1981 by the American Academy of Pediatrics