By Ken Reed
Rick Maese has an excellent feature story in the Washington Post about how cardiovascular-based exercise and sports participation can make our kids not only healthier but smarter with fewer emotional and behavioral issues. The piece, titled “Youth Movement,” highlights Charleston, South Carolina schools and the work of a physical education advocate named David Spurlock, the coordinator of health, wellness and physical education for the Charleston County School District.
Spurlock is an evangelist for getting our kids moving more — especially in our schools.
“If you went to anybody who’s in education, you say PE versus instruction, they say instruction every time,” says Spurlock. “But what we’re trying to show is that more movement equals better grades, better behavior, better bodies.”
The current situation is bleak. Too many of our children live sedentary lives, and the school system isn’t helping.
The American College of Sports Medicine issued a D- grade last year on physical activity by U.S. children. The grade was based on their finding that just 25% of children ages 6-15 are active for even 60 minutes a day. In addition, youth sports participation also has fallen nearly 10 percent since 2009, according to the Sports & Industry Fitness Association.
The federal No Child Left Behind legislation has made things even worse. It resulted in an emphasis on standardized testing in schools across the country. Math, science, reading and writing became the focus and courses like physical education were dropped or greatly cut back. What educators didn’t realize — or chose to ignore — is that fit kids perform better academically, including scoring better on standardized tests.
A study this year at the American College of Sports Medicine found that fourth-and fifth-grade students who engaged in vigorous exercise for at least 10 minutes before a math test scored higher than children who sit still. The study concluded that children who are physically fit absorb and retain new information more effectively than sedentary children.
That study was just the latest of a growing mound of research reports revealing that fit kids not only are healthier, but smarter, and more well-adjusted emotionally.
So, what’s our country’s education system doing in light of all this evidence? The answer is keeping our children locked to their desks for even longer periods than they were a decade ago.
“We put kids in a 2×2 cell and dare them to move: ‘Keep your feet on floor and hands up where I can see them,’” says Spurlock. “That sounds like being incarcerated to me.”
And that is truly criminal.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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