spring sports for kids
Sports / Orthopedic

Spring Sports for Kids: Staying Active Is the Goal

May 3 2024

Some parents may fantasize about their youngster becoming the next Caitlin Clark in women’s basketball or Cincinnati’s own Rose Lavelle with the U.S. women’s national soccer team. Or perhaps a future standout for FC Cincinnati like Lucho Acosta. When considering spring sports for kids, the more immediate – and healthier – goal should simply be to keep them active.

Why sports are beneficial for kids

Matthew Busam, MD, a Mercy Health orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, has treated athletes of all ages. Dr. Busam, who has served as chief medical officer for FC Cincinnati for the past six years, offers his perspective on young athletes.

He knows there are alarming trends in kids becoming sedentary, so their prowess in a particular sport is really secondary.

“The important thing when encouraging a kid to participate in a sport is just to be active,” Dr. Busam says. “You can go on a family bike ride together, golf together or go hiking together.”

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), screen time watching TV and videos comprised the largest proportion of sedentary time. Nearly 43 percent of children ages 7 to 12 and half of those ages 13 to 18 exceed the recommended screen time of two hours a day. Adolescents ages 13 to 18 have sedentary time of more than four hours a day on weekends.

Additional studies show that 77 percent of high school students don’t get enough aerobic physical activity.

What are the consequences of that inactivity? A few of the commonly accepted results can include:

  • Increased risk of being overweight or obese
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Poor bone and muscle health

Signing kids up for spring sports

When looking to sign up your child for a spring sport – or for any season – there are so many options.

“If mom played college soccer, that doesn’t mean their child needs to play soccer,” Dr. Busam says. “Be willing to explore lots of options rather than pigeonhole them.”

According to studies by The Aspen Institute, the most common youth sports children play are basketball (36.8 percent), soccer (26.5 percent) and baseball (24.1 percent). This is from a comprehensive list of 39 different options.

Younger children played team sports at a historically low rate in recent years, but there is progress. Team sports participation took a big hit during the start of the pandemic in 2020 and into 2021, and while it’s rebounding, it’s not back to pre-pandemic levels.

Regardless of the sport, Dr. Busam emphasizes the importance of simply having fun. Sports can provide young athletes with opportunities to experience joy, camaraderie and the thrill of competition.

“If the coaches are overbearing, if the parents are overbearing, if they’re just not having fun, then they’re probably not going to participate for long,” he says. “It’s not as important focusing on keeping their elbow in when they shoot.”

As kids progress in their sports, that can lead to travel teams, team camps and other related activities. That calls for a greater commitment of time and expense for families.

“To do that, kids need to be self-motivated,” Dr. Busam says. “It has to come from within.”

As they continue to climb the ladder, they may harbor dreams of playing at the college and professional levels. There are many shining examples of local athletes who’ve achieved those lofty goals. But the reality is that the funnel narrows significantly as far as how many athletes reach those levels.

According to the NCAA, only about 2 percent of high school athletes are awarded some form of scholarships to play college sports. To take it a step further, less than 2 percent of NCAA athletes then play at the professional level.

So, when you’re signing up your youngster for sports this spring, don’t worry so much about how far they can go. Focus on the good news that they’re healthy and active. And keep in mind that kids are more likely to be active if their parents are.

How we can help

Spring sports for kids require yearly sports physicals to ensure they remain in good health to play the sports they enjoy. Make an appointment with your primary care provider well before the season begins to stay ahead of the game. And if your child gets injured or needs to see a specialist, you can reach out to one of our sports medicine specialists to get them back on the field.

Learn more about the orthopedic and sports medicine services we provide at Mercy Health.

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