Maybe basketball star Charles Barkley was right: athletes shouldn't be role models.
So why is it, then, that sports stars continue to be showered with more fame, money and power than many world leaders and business innovators? In doing so, are we sending out a message to our children that participation in sports is essential to their future success?
Not necessarily. A recent Parent Soup survey of more than 1,100 moms and dads found that only slightly more than one-fourth of those quizzed believe their kids needed to be involved in athletics in order to succeed in the future. A surprising three-fourths of respondents said sports were either somewhat or not at all a determining factor in their child's future. They said involvement in any group activity -- not just sports -- could provide the same benefits as competitive sports. Some even suggested that the disproportionate amount of money spent by schools on athletics instead of academics is a poor allocation of resources.
Parent Soupers offered this advice, and insight, into dealing with pressure to have your kids sign up for sports:
"While I think it is important to let your daughter(s) participate in team sports, sometimes this can hurt her if you aren't her biggest cheerleader. You must be the person who tells her she is doing great if she is doing her best, even if she isn't the 'star' of the team, because she is going to encounter enough negative (feedback) from her peer group if she isn't the 'star.' "
"I believe it doesn't matter what the extra(curricular) activity it is that your child does as long as children get involved in something and aren't sitting home plunked down in front of the TV. Keeping them involved in sports, music, arts, etc. is very healthy, and they can only benefit from it. "
"As a former high school athlete, I am familiar with those old arguments about teamwork and building community and yada yada yada about how good sports are for the kids. As a current public school teacher, I see how a disproportionately large amount of money is spent on things that 'benefit' a small percentage of the overall student body."
"I think it's VERY IMPORTANT for kids to have some sort of extracurricular activity, but not necessarily sports. Although I was involved in sports, I was very involved in chorus and other music when I was young. While sports is a great place to learn about teamwork, I think this can also be learned through a musical organization or through other activities."
"It's not the actual sporting event I find important but ... the teamwork that's involved! I don't think kids HAVE to be involved in sports, but I think that the team playing is very important."