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Decline in youth sports leads to high obesity rates

You read it every day. Kids are not in shape.

Study after study shows that something needs to be done about obesity among kids.

So does it surprise anyone that youth sports are on the decline? Probably not.

As a sports writer, I hear it every day. Pop Warner is down in our town, basketball is having problems fielding a team, PYSA is having problems with numbers and it’s not just Pahrump, the numbers are down in Tonopah and Beatty too.

I read an article written in February 2015. The report used numbers from 2008-2013. The numbers were pretty staggering, “Nearly three million fewer children have played basketball, soccer, track and field, baseball, football, and softball, and less than one in three children between the ages of six to 12 participated in a high-calorie-burning sport or fitness activity three times a week, according to SFIA data.”

The numbers were for kids six to 12 years old.

Hmm, I wonder what all these kids are doing? It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out. I have a kid in junior high school. Kids play on computers and play video games instead of sports.

This could have a big impact on our country as a whole. Our country leads the world in obesity with 35 percent of the males and 39.5 percent of the females in the obese category. Do we really want to win that competition?

The article talked about the other benefits of sports. Yes, there are other benefits. There are lessons to be learned by playing on a team, like how to be a team player. Also in this study, students who exercise more have high brain activity. Physical activity activates the brain. This is a fact. So schools that take away morning recess, like they did in Clark County, are shooting themselves in the foot.

Of course, there are so many factors that limit participation.

So what is the solution?

I think we need more recreation leagues in the town.We have plenty of sports in town, like Little League, Pop Warner, junior wrestling, baseball and softball to name a few. But how many recreational leagues are there?

The idea with the recreation league is just to have fun and attract the kids to come out. We need to make a dent in childhood obesity. This means putting some money aside for parks and rec leagues.

I remember growing up in Los Angeles County in the 1960s and recreation leagues were popular.

That of course was our tax money in action.

Nowadays peeps don’t want to pay for kids. Especially out here, where seniors are always saying to me, “Why should I pay for someone else’s kids?”

Why, because these same kids will grow up defending our nation and they can’t if they are too fat to enter the service. Also think about this, the more recreation leagues we have, that gives these kids less time to burglarize your house.

And if taxes can’t be raised, I still feel they can be brought back through grants or even public fundraising.

When you look at the problem, it is a huge problem, One out of three kids are having weight issues. That is just sad.

The solutions are many. And we don’t need to solve it all in one big swoop. We can pick away at the problem. Start small and gradually build. Also, private funding could be used. There are grants to be had. I think we should make this a priority because our kids are the future of this country.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com.

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