April 25, 2006

Organized Sports

Canadian sporting hero Silken Laumann has written a book. I should know better than to judge a book by its press release, but as the father of two kids under five, the headline in the Ottawa Citizen certainly caught my eye: Take your kids out of sports, top rower Silken Laumann says.

Of course, after reading the rest of the article, it seems that Ms. Laumann's position is considerably more nuanced (surprise, surprise). Here's an excerpt from Child's Play:

I am certainly not suggesting that we stop all organized sports and activities, but I am advocating that we pull back in order to create the time for families to be active together. Let's not make physical activity too complicated. Let's rejoice in the fact that our kids want to move and encourage them to jump a little more, wrestle a little more, run outside roaring.

Allow me to superimpose that thought — and the objectives of Laumann's organization, Silken's Active Kids — with some quotes from the Long Term Athlete Development Plan for Rowing, available from Rowing Canada Aviron (draft version here). Here's what Laumann's own "organized sport," and many others across Canada, have to say about young kids and sport:

Stage 1: Active Start
Age: 0 to 6 years
Objective: Learn fundamental movements and link them together into play.
Key Outcomes: Fun and movement skills.
Physical activity should be fun and a natural part of a child’s daily life, not something required.Active play is the way young children are physically active.
Rowing does not have a direct role to play during the Active Start stage other than to support organizations that promote physical activity.

Stage 2: FUNdamentals
Age: females 6 to 8, males 6 to 9
Objective: Learn fundamental movement skills and build overall motor skills.
Key Outcomes: At the end of this stage, children will

  • be competent in the fundamental movement skills.
  • know how to swim.
Skill development in the FUNdamentals stage should be well structured and FUN, with the emphasis on participation. Children should be encouraged to participate in a variety of sports and physical activity in order to develop fundamental movement skills:
  • Agility, Balance, Coordination, and Speed (ABCs)
  • Kinesthetics, Gliding (“run”), Buoyancy, Striking with a body part (KGBs)
  • Running, Jumping,Throwing (RJTs)
  • Catching, Kicking, Striking with an implement (CKs)
In addition, children should learn water safety and how to swim.
Rowing does not have a direct role to play during the FUNdamentals stage other than to support organizations that promote physical activity and the development of fundamental movement skills.

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