The PLAYbook – by Genieve Sanchez of Athlete’s Angle

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As we sit down and enjoy watching elite athletes perform their craft on TV, do you ever wonder how they came to be the professional athletes?  I would put my last dollar down that most professional athletes grew up PLAYing SPORTS, which in return gave them confidence, conditioning, and competitive skills.  All of which enabled them to rise up to the next level of performance in both life and sport.  The art of PLAY and the experience of SPORTS have just as much influence on a child’s success and as any other subject in school. Sports set a precedent for personal achievement, health and happiness.

“The evidence supporting sports participation for young people is overwhelming.  It has the power to combat everything from racism to low self-image, to the high-school drop-out rate.”

 (Sue Castle, Executive Producer of PBS Sports: Get in the Game)

In my youth, growing up on a small ranch in a rural town, I remember my mom would tell my brother and I to go play outside and come back later. It seemed as if we played for hours, digging up ant piles, running and chasing in a game of tag, and it was not until dusk when we knew it was time to head home.  For those in the more urban areas, play time included walking and playing at parks, riding bikes for hours, and the never-ending games of hoop at the local basketball court.  For me, this art of play transitioned into the desire to be active and play sports at a young age which eventually developed into a deep passion for competition.  Perhaps more importantly, being active in play and sports, gave me a bag full of life skills that I continue to use each and everyday in both my professional and athletic careers.

So what happened to the art of play and the increased involvement of youth in sports?  I am not sure whether the statistics are on the rise or in decline over the past decade but I do know this – more and more children are obese!  I don’t need to do detailed forensic research to know that obesity is plaguing our youth.  In fact all I have to do is look around to see the sad, and alarming, evidence.  The parks are more empty than occupied and the cell phones, iPads and video games are tragically dominating the attention of the youth. Although we can all agree that new technology is fun, fast and engaging, it is also making children FAT!   According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, among all children in theUnitedState, approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.

So what’s next?  Parents need to be soldiers for health and fitness with their children.   Children have many opportunities to participate in sports in their school, city/church leagues, etc.  Encourage and support their involvement, because it is through these activities that your child will experience a variety of benefits such as social skills, making friends, a healthy body, confidence, and life lessons which will, more often than not, translate in a happier child, period.  Play and sports are a lifeline for so many great opportunities for children, do not underestimate their potential.

“Play keeps us in touch with our minds, bodies, and spirits.  My father always spoke of play’s “civilizing influences in human evolution,” and it is in play that we leave some of our better marks and traces on the earth’s surface”  – Susan Yelavich of PLAYTIME

I leave you with a key consideration of not only having your fitness in focus, but to keep dialed in on the fitness of our next generations as well.   It is not only our responsibility but it should be seen as a privilege.

-Genieve Sanchez




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