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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student

Playing to win

Everyone has the natural-born right to a healthy body and mind. Unfortunately, sports culture has reached such a fever pitch in this country that it has begun to hurt these prospects.

President Obama’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition asserts that the average child will spend seven-and-a-half hours a day in front of a screen, be it a television, computer or something else. This is excessive, considering how celebratory sports events are in this country.

But when you overlook the celebrity aspect of an athlete, kids see what playing sports truly means: being active and healthy is great, but being a winner is best.

Pediatric and adolescent sports-medicine specialist Dr. Paul Stricker found that child athletes today suffer from injuries related to overuse and acute trauma. In the past, these types of injuries have only been seen in adults.

Parents and a cultural expectation are to blame for this trend.

If winning sports is the most important aspect of participation, then not only will more children be deterred from participating, but kids taught to play for fun will also be ostracized.

I’m not arguing that sports are a bad thing. I’m saying the precedent set is that winning is what counts.

The best-case scenario may be for a culture to prioritize actively engaging in a sport.

The worst-case scenario may be for a culture to prioritize the tacit endorsement of a sport.

Take Alabama, for example, a state saturated in football. Auburn University is currently ranked No. 6 in the AP poll, while the University of Alabama is ranked No. 7.

While you could consider Alabama a top football state, it ranks nearly last in just about everything else, particularly its standard of living, according to Measure of America.

Measure of America 2013-14 includes a human development index, which is based mostly on census data, and incorporates life expectancy at birth, access to knowledge and standard of living.

Alabama sits at 47th with an HDI of 4.04, compared to the national average of 5.03. Indiana ranked 39th with an HDI of 4.56.

Sure, more pro athletes could encourage kids to get outside instead of playing the video games that directly endorse them.

And sure, these athletes and their owners could make significantly less money and still live comfortably, but they deserve it, right?

Athleticism is something to be proud of, as is navigating the sportsmanship field with maturity and vigor.

But when celebrating sports becomes deleterious to other dimensions of your life, your priorities should be ?reconsidered.

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