I recently watched an elementary school cross-country meet and was struck by the amount of talent that ran past me. I don’t know what it’s like in your region when it comes to cross-country participation, but our elementary school numbers are quite high. The meets in our area regularly draw between 600 and 1600 runners.
Yet our high school participation has declined to the point that some age-group races have only 20 athletes standing on the line.
Where do these budding runners all go? Unfortunately, I know that most of those runners, even the talented ones, will not only be out of running, they’ll be out of any sport or physical activity by the time they begin high school.
Many will find their interests lie in other sports or fitness activities. If so, great! But most will simply decide that physical activity no longer fits their lifestyle. They’ll find part-time jobs for fun-money, or girl friends, or internet obsessions, or decide that the mall provides an easier way to meet members of the opposite sex.
And we make it too easy for them to stop, by not requiring physical activity through daily PE classes. Once broken, the exercise habit is hard to re-start.
How many of the kids who squander their talent every year could be future high school champs, college scholarship recipients of even Olympians. And how many are relegating themselves to a life filled with obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other inactivity-related maladies! It’s heartbreaking when you think about it.
Dick Moss, Editor,
[tags]physical education,cross-country running,runners,youth fitness,youth inactivity,obesity