Too many teenagers these days are running around unsupervised and getting into trouble after school. They may be bored or under stimulated and instead of choosing something productive to do, they roam the streets with their buddies looking for something to keep them busy. Unfortunately, that “something to do” can and usually does get them in a lot of trouble. From drugs to violence to having sex, our teenagers are at risk. Young people with a lot of free time are potentially more open to get into trouble than those who are involved in sports. That doesn’t mean that every child who isn’t in sports is going to cause trouble but it does open up more opportunities for them to do so. After school sports provides an outlet for their energy. Keeping children on the move and parental involvement in their lives is very important.
Long gone are the days of the “Leave it to Beaver” family household. The perfect Mother isn’t waiting at home after school with a smile on her face and dinner on the table. In today’s world, most families have two working parents to make ends meet. Unfortunately for the children of these families, it means there is some time home alone until Mom or Dad gets home from work. During that time, the kids are free to do whatever they want, unsupervised. Many adolescents call friends to come over or go out and hang out with their friends at their unsupervised house. Some even choose to hang out in pairs or groups around the neighborhood. Not all of these kids are going to get into trouble but the opportunity is wide open for them to do so. Being involved in a sport and having less time to “hang out”, teenagers are less exposed to violence, drugs and sexual opportunities.
The teenage years are the time when smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol is introduced to most of our children. It’s no secret that usually the person introducing them to these vices is a friend or schoolmate. No matter how much parents talk to their kids about the harmful effects of smoking and drinking, sometimes the peer pressure is too great and the children will try it anyways. Children who are involved and serious about sports don’t want to harm their bodies with these toxic substances or risk a chance of getting caught and kicked off the team.
How do I know this?
I asked my son, a 15 year old teenager, who is a serious athlete. My son doesn’t have time to get into trouble. Instead, he has sports: hockey, baseball, track and football to occupy his spare time. So many of his friends call daily asking if he wants to “hang out” or “ride bikes around the neighborhood.” Not only is he not allowed to “hang out” unsupervised, he doesn’t have the time to do so. So his answer is always “No thanks, I have hockey today.” Does he feel left out? No. He has his friends at hockey, baseball and football that he “hangs out” with, supervised and who, like him, don’t want to risk their chances of sitting the bench by exhibiting bad behavior.
Today’s society of having single parents or two working parents leaving adolescents at home unsupervised for stretches of time opens up opportunities for these children to find mischief. By involving children in a sport that they enjoy, they will have a sense of commitment to that particular event. They have fun there; they don’t want to miss practice. Keeping young people busy and involved with after school sports can help keep them out of trouble and away from the temptations of heading down the “wrong path”.
Thomas Vincent, teen athlete