Category: Sports

Finding Balance With Extracurricular Activities

Many high schools, colleges and universities emphasize their goals of producing well-rounded students. Extracurricular activities teach students important life lessons, provide them opportunities to socialize and often stimulate their minds and bodies in ways that differ from the stimulation provided in the classroom.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau states that, in 2014, 57 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 participate in at least one after-school extracurricular activity. Children are more likely to participate in sports than clubs or lessons, such as music, dance and language, but each of these activities can be beneficial to students’ development.

Students who participate in extracurricular activities may want to limit their participation to 20 hours per week. This is according to a group of professors from Stanford University and Villanova University who have been collecting data on the issue since 2007.

In their report “Extracurricular Activity in High-Performing School Contexts: Stress Buster, Booster or Buffer?”, Jerusha Conner and Sarah Miles found that 87 percent of kids who would be considered to have packed schedules were perfectly happy unless they were doing more than four hours a day.

The “over-scheduling hypothesis” may be overhyped. This is the concern that too much organized activity participation leads to poor developmental outcomes. This hypothesis also suggests that hectic schedules also undermine family functioning, detract from schoolwork and possibly increase the risk of copycat behaviors and excessive competitiveness.

However, in the study “The Over-Scheduling Hypothesis Revisited: Intensity of Organized Activity Participation During Adolescence and Young Adult Outcomes,” researchers J.L. Mahoney and Andrea Vest determined that, controlling for demographic factors and baseline adjustment, extracurricular intensity was a significant predictor of positive outcomes and unrelated to indicators of problematic adjustment (e.g., psychological distress, substance use, antisocial behavior) at young adulthood.

Even though extracurricular activities are largely positive — even when schedules are packed — parents need to be aware of the diminishing returns of too many activities. This is something called the “threshold effect.” Benefits from extracurriculars can level off when too many activities are being juggled.

If a child is experiencing anxiety, sleeplessness or depression, or seems overly stressed, it could be time to reduce students’ time spent doing structured activities. It’s essential that families use the cues given by kids to assess what students can handle. And children should be encouraged to be honest with their parents about their extracurricular activities as well.

American Football: An International Pastime

According to Nielsen, 111.3 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl in early 2017. Almost two-thirds of adults in the United States say they currently watch National Football League games. But American football is no longer relegated to the boundaries of the United States, as it is becoming a global sport. According to the International Federation of American Football, there are 80 countries with organized federations governing the game. Plus, thousands of youth and adult leagues exist all over the world.

The Evolution of Football

Even though soccer has long been a global sport, it seems the other kind of “football” is quickly catching up. The sport known as American football was borne out of the English sports of association football (soccer) and rugby. During the late 19th century, elite Northeastern colleges took up the sport, playing a soccer-type game with rules adopted from the London Football Association. Intercollegiate matches began to spring up at schools such as Rutgers, Princeton, Harvard, and McGill University. Rugby-type rules became preferential among players and spectators. Walter Camp, known affectionately as the “Father of American Football,” transformed the rugby-style game into the one that resembles American football today. Camp brought two key innovations to the game. The opening “scrummage” was eliminated, and a rule was introduced that required a team to give up the ball after failing to advance down the field a specific yardage. Camp also developed the quarterback position, lines of scrimmage and the scoring scale used in football today.

The Injury Controversy

Early games were controversial because of the high rate of injury. Even President Theodore Roosevelt stepped in to ask collegiate teams to revise regulations to make the game less brutal. The committee overseeing the rules would later become known as the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Thanks largely in part to the popularity of college football, professional football began to gain traction with the public. The American Professional Football Association was formed in 1920. That league would later become the National Football League. The first televised NFL game occurred in 1939. Eventually, American football’s popularity would explode.

Sis Boom Rah!

Cheerleaders were introduced to the game in the 1960s. Currently, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are the most famous squad. Six teams in the NFL do not have cheerleaders: the Chicago Bears, the Cleveland Browns, the Detroit Lions, the New York Giants, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Green Bay Packers. Football games typically last around 3 hours. Average attendance for an NFL game is 66,957 spectators. American football has become a multibillion-dollar industry. What developed on college campuses has grown into a worldwide phenomenon.

 
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