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
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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