We’ve all seen some amazing performances during the Olympics the last two weeks. We’ve seen athletes display amazing abilities. The question in my mind right now is, just how far can these athletes go? Remember when a sub 4 minute mile was unthinkable? That is until Roger Bannister ran one? Remember how it used to be watching the men’s 100 meter dash? Then Usain Bolt came along and started blowing everybody away. Today’s athletes routinely perform feats that were unimaginable when I was a child. Just how far can they go? With the ever growing amount of research and knowledge into sports performance, are we nearing the limits of human potential? Or have we just scratched the surface? I personally hope that the latter is the case. If it is, the next 30 years are going to be loads of fun.
My wife and I were helping at church this weekend and the kids were playing “red light, green light“. As I watched the kids play, I realized how much value simple games like this have. The game makes you start, accelerate, then stop when presented with a stimulus. Kind of reminds me of sports. Think about how much time we spend trying to teach athletes these very skills. As I watched the kids, I tried to watch their footwork as they played. Did they have perfect footwork? No. But you know what? It wasn’t that bad either. No one was complaining, nobody was forcing anyone to play, and nobody blew out an ACL. The kids just had fun.
I remember several years ago when a veteran PE teacher told me that it was terrible that they had taken dodgeball out of the PE curriculum. He explained that dodgeball teaches kids to throw and helps them to develop agility, coordination, and balance. Now, I understand that dodgeball has gotten a bad rap because somebody ends up getting picked on in the game. I get that in the kinder, gentler society that we are a part of, games like this have been pushed aside. Unfortunately, I believe that the development of athletic skills is a positive that we shouldn’t overlook.
For some reason in the U.S., we are in such a hurry to find the next phenom that we aren’t letting kids play these simple games and develop their basic skills. We are too much of a hurry to get a kid to specialize on the field or the court so that they can get offered a college scholarship. There needs to be a major shift in our thinking in this country. A lot of folks are probably doing more to mess their kids up than they are to help them. Young kids should spend more time playing “red light, green light”, “tag”, “dodgeball”, and numerous other simple games. In the end, it would create better athletes who weren’t physical and mental wrecks by the time they are 18 years old.