I believe that children should be banned from professional sport.

Now let me begin with a disclaimer – I in no way deny the countless health benefits that come with casual sport. Notice the casual in italics. To compress my argument – I believe that children up until 16 years of age are too vulnerable once trapped in the vortex of professional sport. It’s just too much to handle, to the point where it’s borderline unbearable for a child.

Sport benefits a child’s overall health in many ways. However, when regarding professional sport, this claim has been established as false by multiple medical experts. The demands of professional sport create a lust for an ideal body type, potentially leading to an unhealthy lifestyle of eating disorders. Adults, who ultimately are the ones who run the child’s schedules and overall life, will deprive these children. Strict diets are enforced, because adults believe in their children’s succession. Putting children on strict diets so that they rapidly and radically increase their muscle mass or lose weight is utter cruelty.

Playing sport professionally also requires regular excessive practice, at an average of 30 hours per week. These long hours result in high rates of depression among players, and suicide rates are through the roof. This is due to factors such as lower academic performance. A child in professional sport is bound to fall behind academically as all their time and energy is drained through practice, provoking a sense of disappointment and self-pity. This creates mental and emotional instability.

It is absolutely essential that we raise a well-educated generation. It would be economically devastating if uneducated individuals were to join the workforce. The last thing we need is a generation of suicidal children with poor academic performance and unfulfilled sport aspirations. The harsh reality is that, in order to even qualify for professional sport, a child must be born with natural talent.

It requires a level of dedication, sacrifice and discipline that, quite frankly, not many children are familiar with. Any child can play sport for fun. But unless born with special athletic abilities, normal children can’t develop the skill to make it onto the scene.

Often overlooked is the darker side of a professional sporting career. Improper behaviour, poor character, cheating, scandals, drugs, violence and disrespect are far too common traits of these children. A young mind does not have the stamina to cope with these things, and can be easily manipulated and abused. When parents view a child as a source of income, they go to far lengths to ensure they claim winning title. Many parents resort to years of threats, bribery and shouting, forcing their child to play professionally. Two famous examples of this are actors Linsdey Lohan and Makaulay Culkin who were abused and pressured as children to maintain their million dollar acting careers. Today they are recovering drug addiction and the destruction that wealth and fame has created.

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The department for Child Protection cites speaking to a child in ways that damage their perceptions, self esteem, moral development and intelligence as harmful psychological abuse. Rather than allowing parental influence, it would seem necessary to enforce a ban on children entering professional sport until they are of mature age. Once a child reaches 16, I believe that they have the mental capacity to execute a professional sporting career.

The risk-taking mentality.

The inclusion of money as a reward creates a risk-taking mentality. This is the distinct difference between casual and professional sport. A study from Stanford Graduate School found that participants are more likely to take risks and make irrational decisions when money is involved. Scans of this brain behaviour show that activity is almost identical to that of a cocaine addict. The money-centric game places additional pressure onto a child to utilise performance enhancing drugs, as our first speaker brought up.

Conclusion

Professional sport takes the fun out of sport, replacing the health and fitness objective with a money one. Kids aren’t playing for fun anymore, their motive is purely materialistic – which is not what we should be teaching our children from early ages. It is contrary to the common moral belief of raising children with love, care and compassion. I strongly believe that professional sport is detrimental to the mental and physical state of our youth, and thus deserves a ban.

Off course that is only my opinion. Let me know your thoughts!

As always, I’m up for discussion.

Thanks for reading!
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