By Ken Reed
America is a sports-crazed nation in one way: spectatorship. We love watching sports a lot more than participating in them. After the age of 13, there’s a big drop in sports participation. After the age of 18, there’s another big drop. For most people, when they give up participating in sports, they also begin spending less time exercising overall. Most Americans continue to exercise less and less as they age.
The not-so-pretty big picture is that only one in five American adults exercises enough based on federal guidelines, only one in six of adults in their mid-50’s, and only one in seven after age 65.
But seniors are beginning to turn that trend on its head.
The percentage of those over 65 exercising at the recommended rate has been on the rise since 1998, when only six percent of Americans over 65 met the federal levels for exercise (at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, plus muscle-building activity at least twice a week). By 2011, when the most recent study was done, 16 percent of the 65+ set were getting enough exercise from sports and other activities. Many seniors are choosing endurance sports like swimming, running and cycling — often participating in competitive events. Masters swimming, diving, and track and field programs are gaining in popularity every year. Senior Olympics-type events are on the rise. Seniors are discovering there’s no reason that they can’t keep participating in sports long after they’ve added an AARP card to their wallets.
Diana Nyad, at 64, recently became the first person to complete a 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. In doing so, she inspired other baby boomers to get moving.
“She just didn’t give up, she was determined to do it,” said 63-year-old Greg Cooke. “I’m thinking, ‘All right, I can’t let these little aches and pains hold me back; there’s things to do and I’m going to get out there and do them.'”
And when looking for something to do, why not pick a sport to participate in for your exercise? It sure beats running on a treadmill.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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