Childhood obesity is no laughing matter. It is a global pandemic which is only going to grow unless we do something to stunt its growth. Much like a malignant cancer, it needs to be removed from society. A research study in 2012 uncovered some horrific findings. In America, 18 per cent of 6-11 year-olds are classed as obese, while a further 21% of 12-19 year-olds are classed obese. These numbers have tripled since the 1980s. Nearly one fifth of our youth population, the youth that will lead us in the next generation, are classed as obese.
Is this gluttony a by-product of America’s insatiable consumerism? It may be but that is a question for another day. The problem at hand is how to stop our children getting bigger. Everyone chucks the healthy eating spiel around. But if your child doesn’t like vegetables, they don’t like vegetables! The easiest and most beneficial way to ensure that your child is healthy is by encouraging them to get into sports.
It doesn’t take a White House advisor to tell you that the best way to keep your child fit and healthy is by making them play sports, something which is sadly in decline – child participation in sport fell by roughly 4% between the years 2008-2012. We need to drawback on the allowed console time, which is destructive in so many ways. Kids need to be outside once again instead of cooped up in their room playing Call of Duty online. The irony of it all is that when they are not playing COD they are probably playing a sports game like Madden. Honestly, it drives you to the point of insanity!
Of course every child is different. Naturally, they will prefer one sport over the other. They could quite easily despise football but have an equivocal love for baseball. It is a choice that every child has to make for themselves. If you push them too hard in one direction they will want to go the other. You can never force your sporting ideals and expectations onto your child. Let them play for the fun of playing and not to just make you happy. This attached link of the worst tennis parents in history will give you some indicator on what to avoid being like.
Bar the technology, one of the best advances in the 21st Century has been the relaxing in attitudes when it comes to gender in sports. What was once a male game, i.e. soccer, has now become a multi-sex game open to all, and that is exactly how sport should be. Your gender should not see your sporting activity ring-fenced. In fact, it should not matter at all.
So without further ado here are the ten best sports to try and encourage your child to get involved in.
Current Champions: San Francisco Giants
One to look up to: Mike Trout
Mike Trout by Keith Allison
Baseball is one of America’s oldest and best-loved sports. This bat-and-ball game consists of two teams of nine taking it in turns in an attempt to score the most runs. With plenty of running, it is good cardio for your child, whilst the swinging and pitching rotations are also good for shedding excess weight (love handles) from your child’s torso.
The game itself is rather tactical. If your child is batting, they will have to use their nous to decide on which type of shot they should play and what type of pitch their opponent is going to throw. It makes them make calculated decisions and come to grips with risk. The Little Leagues are a breeding ground for World Series-winning talent. You never know, one day your child could be leading out the favourites with the likes of betfair at the World Series.
Current Champions: LA Galaxy (USA) Real Madrid (Worldwide)
One to look up to: Clint Dempsey (USA) Cristiano Ronaldo (Worldwide)
Clint Dempsey by Erik Daniel Drost
America had a love affair with the 2014 World Cup. For the first time the whole of the country seemingly cared about soccer. Their passion both home and abroad shone through and to many they became the most loved fans at the World Cup. Memories of the sterling Tim Howard performances still come to mind.
The World Cup has effectively broken the camel’s back. It may have already piqued your child’s interest, now it is time to prod them in the right direction.
Soccer is contested by two sides of 11 players with the aim of scoring more goals than the opposition. Much like football, every player is given a very specific role. There is a goalkeeper and defenders, who try to defend the goal from the opposition, midfielders, who provide another layer of defense but also try to create goalscoring opportunities, and strikers, who score the majority of the goals.
Besides basketball, soccer involves the most running out of any the team sports in the States. But not only is soccer a good workout it is a brilliant socialising tool. Like all other team sports you win and lose as a team. Over time this forges bonds between players, creating a certain kinship. Regardless of the team sport, the people you play with usually become friends for life. Soccer also teaches your child respect, answer back to the referee and prepare to be rebuked.
Current Champions: Seattle Seahawks
One to look up to: Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers by Mike Morbeck
The 2014 Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos attracted a record 111.5 million domestic viewers. That is quite frankly ridiculous! It is some sort of a bizarre paradox that nearly one third of the country’s population can sit down and happily watch the game, yet one fifth of our children are obese. Something is certainly amiss.
American children love football and should be encouraged to chuck the pigskin at any given opportunity. In the times of yesteryear many a night was spent playing catch in the back yard. These are days that need to return.
Questions can be raised about the safety of football, but in modern times the junior game has become extremely safe. Touch football retains the excitement of the NFL, but combines it with the safety you would expect from a junior game.
Current Champions: San Antonio Spurs
One to look up to: LeBron James
LeBron James by Keith Allison
No sport is as end-to-end as basketball. When you sit down at the court to watch a game you stand the risk of cricking your neck, that is how high-octane it is. Even if your child has the energy to bounce off walls they will still be pooped once they step off the hard court.
As aforementioned with soccer, by playing basketball you run yourself into the ground, but in a way that you would do over and over again as you strive to help your side record a victory.
As a parent, there is arguably no other sport that is as enjoyable to watch your child compete in than basketball, which usually comes out on top in the jaw-dropping moment stakes – after watching this recent dunk it took days for the jaw to return to its natural closed position.
Current Champions: Male: Stanislas Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Marin Cilic; Female: Li Na, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams.
Ones to look up to: Roger Federer and Serena Williams
Serena Williams by Boss Tweed
If your child prefers the more individualistic sports then the tennis court is where you should look. From a health perspective, it is like a rigorous yoga exercise – you’re stretching your body at breakneck speed in an attempt to return the ball. In short, tennis is blistering good fun. In tandem with the brilliant full-body workout there is a lot of mental coaching that goes on. Tennis matches can run over three hours, keeping yourself in the right frame of mind to play a sport for that long is not only impressive, but something that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.
What is really appealing about tennis is the respect and advancement of women in the sport. For example, the historic Wimbledon tournament – the greatest in the sport – pays both their male and female winners the same prize money. It is refreshing to see gender equality in sport.
If you have a little girl, get her watching Serena Williams, who can inspire any female into tennis. The American ace has the quality to give the men a run for their money, something that all girls could do if given a fair chance.
Current Champions: Male: Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy; Women: Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park, Michelle Wie, Mo Martin, Kim Hyo-joo
Ones to look up to: Bubba Watson and Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie by Keith Allison
Although appearing like a leisurely sport on paper, golf is far from it. When you consider that a round of 18-hole golf is on average around 3.7 miles you soon realise that although it is contested at a walking pace it is far from effortless.
If your child gets into golf then you should be extremely happy. Due to it being an individual sport there is no such thing as training sessions once a week. Instead, your child could be going down the driving range three times a week and quite easily playing two rounds of golf at the weekend. Finding a golf course is not hard at all, they are dotted all over the country and can be easily found on the internet.
There is a huge amount of mental strength that goes into golf. Training by yourself is hardly enticing, but the prospect of getting better is, henceforth your child, if interested, will commit themselves to the game. Practice, practice, practice is the only way to advance and for your child to achieve that they will have to have self-discipline, which after a year of the sport they will have. Whenever has possessing self-discipline been a bad thing?
Current Champions: LA Kings
One to look up to: Justin Williams
The Staples Center home of the LA Kings
Skating alone is hard enough, but skating whilst holding a stick and trying to smack a puck into a goal takes it to a whole new level. Of the sports listed so far, ice hockey is the most dangerous, but all sport is dangerous as we tragically found out with the Phillip Hughes incident of 2014 in cricket. We cannot be scared of contact sport, if we do then we are practically cutting off a limb.
Current Champion: Michael Phelps
One to look up to: Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps by marcopako ï£¿
Whether you encourage your child to take swimming up as a sport or as a hobby is entirely up to you. Upon taking one look at Phelps you see the perks to swimming, which is one of the most challenging sports in the world. Take a quick glance at Phelps’ diet plan to see just how much of a carb burner swimming is.
Current Champion: Vincenzo Nibali
One to look up to: Bradley Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins by surreynews
Cycling in Europe has always been big news. The Tour de France brings millions of people out of their homes and onto their streets as they cheer on the respective favourite. Yorkshire, England, was blessed to host the start of the 2014 edition and the support they received was phenomenal with more than two million lining the streets.
Since the downfall of Lance Armstrong, cycling in America has fallen by the wayside. The biggest losers of that is us. We need to get back up on our bikes and start riding. Not only is it healthy but it can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Current Champion: Floyd Mayweather
One to look up to: Anthony Joshua
Floyd Mayweather by SportsAngle.com
Some people were born to box so don’t be afraid of signing your children up to it.