If you have ever played a sport, and if you are American then you have heard the popular phrase, “There is no I in TEAM,” which was originally said by the infamous Michael Jordan. This is a great example about how important it is for Americans to participate in team sports. Sport builds friendships, the feeling of competition, and teaches hard work and dedication. As important as this phrase is, it has become hypocritical in the sense that American sports fans have always been in love with having a sports hero to look up to, or just the idea of a sport superstar itself.
There has been Jackie Robinson, Tiger Woods, Archie Moore, Micheal Jordan, Andre Agassi, Wayne Gretzky, and countless others that have found their ways into the hearts of America. When it comes down to it, competition, winning, hard work, and living a life of luxury is apart of the American culture. Americans live for their favorite teams, they will skip work to watch a basketball game, or fly 500′s of miles to watch their hockey team play for the Stanley Cup finals. Relationships are built in sport, personalities, and hard-work, and passion are created, this is a large part of the American Culture; sport.
Hockey is the best sport representation of the American Culture. Though when many people think of hockey they directly turn their heads up north to our neighboring country of Canada, this sport has quickly become a part of the America culture. There is proof that over the years hockey has become very Americanized, and has become much more of an iconic sport here in the United States, than any other sport today.
Recreational sports is an important part of our leisure activities. It helps relieve the stress of our work day. There are a wide range of activities that one can participate in, softball, baseball, basket ball, tennis, football and even hockey. For the team sports, there are even leagues in which the teams can compete, thus increasing the energy level required. This in turn increases the amount of beneficial exercise and stress relief.The skill levels vary widely and most of the players are in for the fun and exercise. Occasionally team sports can get competitive and tempers can flare. The challenge is to keep the egos and violence in check. Recently, there has been a ration of severe injuries in youth sports. This is a disturbing trend. Youth sports should be about skill development, not winning at all costs. A secondary lesson that is supposed to be instilled by participation in youth sports is sportsmanship. How to relate to your team mates and opposing players in a positive non threatening way, is the other.
I am particularly disheartened by the rise in head injuries and concussions, this type of trauma is a potentially life altering injury. Concussions can lead to stroke and other cognitive disorders that might not show up until later in the child’s development. In the past few months several youth sports organizations have come out with guidelines to prevent head injuries. The American Hockey Association is an example. They have published a set of recommendations for the coaches of youth hockey to reduce the incidence of head trauma. The Canadian youth hockey organization came out with a study that showed that children who played in leagues that allowed body checking at the Pee Wee level were more than three times more likely to suffer head trauma injuries than those who played in non checking leagues.Could there be a correlation between these injuries and violent behavior in later years. I have found no research on this, but it might have an effect. Then there are the absolute tragedies, the Boston University hockey player Travis Roy who is paralyzed from the neck down as result of a body check. More recently a high school player received a serious injury that also paralyzed him. To paraphrase the Peter, Paul and Mary song, “How many more times must the children be hurt”.Not only should the recommendations become mandatory, but every youth sports coach should be trained in how to prevent them in the first place. Ultimately it is up to the parents to push for the adoption of these measures. If the parents let it be known that they want to stop the senseless injuries at the local level. Almost every level of youth sports is governed by at least a local organization. The organizations should also enforce these coaching strategies at every level. The safety and enjoyment of the activity should be the primary goal of all youth sports.
As the time keeper for an adult recreation hockey league, I have observed both the positive and negative aspects of recreational sports. Our league emphasizes safety and sportsmanship, yet we have also had some sever injuries. Thankfully non have been head injuries. Our league is a no checking one.