Asking parents to give kids sports options

NFL Evolution will feature a guest columnist every Tuesday, each with a different viewpoint of player health and safety from the youth level to pro football.

By Chris Golic, NFL Evolution columnist

Can you believe football season already is over?

Why does it seem that one of the best times of the year passes so quickly? Hopefully, all the young players had a fun and positive experience with their teams this fall while learning a bit about the great game of football.

While we will miss football, it's time to move on to the next season and look forward to what our children will be doing with their newfound free time. While it's always nice to have a bit of a break after a season, we all know after a week or so the kids are bouncing off the walls. This especially is true if you live where the cold weather has settled in.

So what to do next? My answer is simply to do anything, as long as it's active. There are so many other sports and activities for kids to participate in, and they all have something terrific to offer.

Football's offseason is the perfect time to explore some of the winter and spring sports available. When my children were younger, they participated in an array of activities, from wrestling, basketball and swimming to baseball, soccer, lacrosse and even snowboarding. They loved them all and I remember that as the sports seasons changed, there always was a level of anticipation with each opportunity to try something new.

Changing things up helps to keep their activities from getting stale. We should never lose sight of the fact that their activities should be something they look forward to doing. Taking a break from a sport, especially at younger ages, helps keep that enthusiasm alive.

Any activity kids participate in should be fun. Whatever they choose to commit to should be something they genuinely enjoy doing. Who wants to do something they don't particularly enjoy during their free time?

Kids have plenty of things in life they have to do, so their recreational activity should be something they get to choose. For many children, participating in organized activities is their only chance to interact with their peers outside the school setting. Sports are very social and can be an important component to a young person's development.

They also provide our kids with exercise that will keep them healthy and happy. Our children need to move. We as a nation need to move. One in three kids today in America is overweight.

As the opportunity for physical activity in school has diminished, the importance of joining an after-school program has become even more significant. After sitting in school all day, our young people need to get out and let off a little steam, instead of more time spent sitting around. Exercising will help them in other areas as well, from their performance in school to sleeping at night.

Finally, focusing on different sports throughout the year will also lessen the likelihood of suffering an injury caused by overuse. The repetition of doing the same thing over and over doesn't do a young body much good and tends to cause young athletes problems as their bodies develop. In fact, most young athletes will find their performance on one field of play is often enhanced by the technique and training mastered in other sports.

As a mother, I know there is nothing better than watching your kids be involved in something that they enjoy. Seeing the pride they have in what they accomplish is a wonderful experience for both the parent and the child.

So I say embrace the break from the football field no matter how much we love that time of year. After all, we know a new season will be here before you know it.

Christine Golic is the NFL's Consultant on Youth Football and a member of the Heads Up Football Advisory Committee. Golic is the wife of Mike Golic, a nine year NFL veteran and co-host of ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning," and mother of two sons who played college football at Notre Dame and a daughter who is a swimmer at Notre Dame.

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