Couch Potatoes? Youths Shunning Sports Participation

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Why our youths are shunning sports?

It is actually very easy to point fingers at sports ministries and say that these are run in an amateur manner or issues with restrictions on movement is making youths lose faith in the sporting system and end up not participating in sports altogether. I believe this is a very short-sighted evaluation of the situation. The point is there can be several factors that may lead youths to shun sports participation.

Someone once said to me ‘this is not an easy time for our children to grow up.’ The reader would agree with me that the obligation being placed on children by their parents to be the best at school is causing children not actually to enjoy the most beautiful periods of their young lives. 

According to some, students and children cannot afford to ‘waste’ time doing sport and other related activities. This is the general understanding of many. The belief is that academic failure would mean that the parents did not raise the children as they should have. This is complete hogwash and sad.

Millennial parents. 

The saddest contributor to a decrease in the number of children participating in sporting activities may be the reason why some parents are not patient enough with their children. It is slowly becoming expected that children are born as adults and should behave as such. That means there is no room to enjoy sports. Some parents, apparently, instead of listening to their children and giving them support, are resorting to quick-fixes when they don’t ‘behave properly.’

These quick-fixes sometimes come in the form of touch-screens and the likes of video games. Agreed, it works and can quiet kids for some time. We can also discuss the fact that this ‘solution’ is creating a generation of children who have no clue how to interact with other children (except through social media). Children who are not being taught the necessary life skills that our parents have patiently taught us, the older generation. 

Sports association and administrators.

Of course, this is not the only contributor to this kind of society. Unavoidably, sports administrators and associations have a huge role to play as well. Indeed, in most sporting disciplines focus heavily on winning and from the early ages, children are being drilled into training practices that are not focused on fun. Instead, they are instilled to have a mentality that if they don’t work hard enough, they will be failures in the field of sport.

This is evidence of a disadvantageous strategy on how to develop grassroots in the various sporting disciplines. This, in turn, discourages children. They are not being allowed to see sport as something fun. I believe that the primary focus should be the children’s well-being, the creation of friendships and associations. In the case of team sports, the most critical lesson is teamwork I would want to believe. How to learn the traits of camaraderie is an invaluable contributor to a healthy and robust society.

Participation in sports important for personal development.

Let’s agree; we need our children to be involved in sports. It is not just a health matter, but a responsibility on all of us to assure that our kids grow to become adults who are not only worried about their professions but also concerned with the welfare of those around them and of their society. After all, they will have children too, so we must express to them the beauty which is participation in sport.

Beyond doubt, youths participation in sports is not entirely focused on the need to stay in good health, fitness and shape. Likewise, it is necessary for the formation of one’s character through an appreciation of the universal values of sport: teamwork, respect, honesty, discipline, compassion, equality and fair play. Anyone who shuns children from sports activities fails to understand that participating in sports is a necessary addition to the growth of children, and ultimately paying off also in adulthood.

In Zimbabwe, for instance, a substantial part of sports facilities are allocated to football. True, football is the biggest game and sadly requires enormous pieces of land. However, there is a great need to expand our energies to other sports disciplines. Not that football is not doing well; of course, the warriors are not close to being the best at the moment. Sports participation could help in the growing involvement of our youths by providing an increased selection of sports disciplines.

The global village of couch potatoes.

Another aspect which contributes to the decreasing participation of youth in sports is the comfort zone of computers and smartphones. Teenagers spend hours of their time on digital devices, either watching films, chatting or playing online games. It is no surprise that online games are being considered the new sports, called e-sports — not the usual kind of sports we are used to. E-sports involve teaming up with local individuals, or individually, to contend with other players elsewhere.

While E-sports can provide the individual with values of teamwork and possibly other sport values, its contribution to physical activity is non-existent. Therefore, I believe that e-sports fans should complement their play with other sport disciplines which give physical action and exercise. Thus youths sports participation may improve if clubs seriously enhance the social dimension of being a club member, and also make sports a more friendly and enjoyable experience as opposed to a strictly competitive event.

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