Finding the balance between sport safety and sedentary behaviour

 

 
 
 
 
 

Safety in sport has become a growing concern for families and community leaders.

Yet, one prominent Ottawa doctor reminds us not to forget the inherent value of taking part in sport and recreation – as safely as possible.

Dr. Taryn Taylor, team doctor for the Ottawa Redblacks, 67s and Fury, worries that the health concerns of sport participation tend to eclipse the health issues related to sedentary living.

“I hate to hear of enrolment in sport decreasing,” said Taylor, a panelist at the recent Player’s Health Grey Cup Summit. “We need to look at the big picture and make sure we are engaging our kids at all levels of sport.”

With obesity rates soaring in North America, Taylor cites the benefits to mind and body with exercise and team sport. Women with body image issues often find a place for them in sport, which has roles and positions for large and small participants.

“Sports can really help self-esteem,” said Taylor, who also operates a general practice. “There are so many choices for sport. And you don’t have to play at a high level. Get moving and get the heart rate up.”

Winnipeg’s Dr. Glen Bergeron, an advocate of the True Sport movement (fun and inclusive sport), would like to see families dial back the professionalization of minor sport, especially hockey, in this country.

“Most kids go into sport because they want to be with their friends and have fun,” Bergeron said. “They leave sport because they’re not having fun and their friends are not there anymore.”

Sport as fun recreation, as opposed to the “life and death” quality assigned it by some parents and coaches, represents a safer environment.

“There’s so much focus on competition versus player development,” said Marcel Bellefeuille, an assistant coach with the B.C. Lions of the CFL and former head coach of the Ottawa Gee-Gees. “That’s our first misstep. We need a national coach-to-coach program, a national certification program to talk about player development and its value.

“From my perspective we shouldn’t have true competition teaching until we get to the collegiate level.”

Jeff Yanchus, an award-winning rugby and football coach at the high school level in Guelph, advocates smart sport, instead of falling back on the lowest common denominator of winning through toughness.

“Let’s get kids turned on to the idea of: ‘I want to be that smart, skilled player. I don’t want to solve all my problems with a hammer,’” Yanchus said.

“Let’s be more sophisticated and try to out-finesse people. Let’s exalt that when we talk about athletes.”

So committed is Yanchus to reducing aggression in football, he said he would walk away from the sport, and advise his son to follow suit, if adults can’t get their act together as far as making the game safe and fun at the youth level.

wscanlan@postmedia.com
twitter/@hockeyscanner

 
 
 
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