Parents’ safety concerns shouldn’t determine child’s athletic aspirations
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. Dec. 2013
From an early age, we teach children to behave nicely and to play safe, but overprotectiveness can be more damaging than kicks, punches, and scrapes against pavement. Protecting children is one thing, but activities that test endurance such as hockey, mixed martial arts (MMA), and other sports requiring a helmet can offer valuable lessons—ones that children cannot get from their caring parents.
Although many still consider MMA to be a barbaric sport, it’s incredibly popular amongst the younger generation. Parents are more inclined today to enrol their children in lessons and cheer on their sons and daughters as they duke it out. That being said, it only takes a few seconds of viewing a child “ground and pound” an opponent before we recognize what is really happening. We shoot some judgmental glances at the parents and wonder how they could have let such a monstrosity happen.
Give me a break. I feel those parents should be commended for believing in their children, despite their child’s loss. Sure the child got hurt in the process—let that be the worst thing to happen in that child’s life. Sports are inherently dangerous; it doesn’t matter if you sprain your MCL playing badminton or get concussed from a roundhouse kick. Competition hurts and so does life. Spoiling children and keeping them in the house playing video games is more crippling than a few bruises.
The reason why I believe after-school and weekend sports enrolment for children is so important is that I didn’t have any when I was growing up. I had overprotective parents who wanted me to pursue academic and artistic endeavours and avoid the tremulous world of athletics. I believe the inability to cope with losing set me back a bit as I aged. I was afraid to fall and take chances, until one day I decided to purchase a skateboard with my own money and prove my durability. I remember returning home with blood dripping down my leg, proud. I had fallen and I survived.
Competition is a part of life, and the earlier we teach our children this concept the more competent they’ll be, whether in academic, professional, or athletics goals. Learning to lose is as important as learning to win. Those who are successful will tell you that there is not one without the other. If the child has a passion and is willing the pursue it, parents should support them regardless of the concrete floor, opposing teams, or headlocks.
Some may call certain sports violent, and therefore worth banning children from. Certain children are also naturally more violent than others, and the combination sounds like a recipe for disaster. But sports allow children to focus their intensity by giving them motivation in a controlled environment. Kids who act out in classrooms will often find sports not only help build physical stamina, but mental stamina as well.
Scars are not signs of mom and dad’s inept parenting—they’re badges of honour for the children.