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Article
April 5, 1958

COMPETITIVE ATHLETICS FOR PRE-TEEN-AGE CHILDREN: A CHALLENGE TO PHYSICIANS

JAMA. 1958;166(14):1701-1707. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.02990140035007
Abstract

Opinions differ as to the intensity of competition that should be allowed to develop in athletics for children under the age of 13. A child induced to participate in highly competitive sports that imitate adult patterns is subjected to severe physical and emotional strains, and these sometimes profoundly affect his subsequent physical growth and social development. Especially in interscholastic and intercommunity championship games, with uniforms, parades, prizes, and publicity, and with the possibility of vicarious glorification of parent and school, the psychological responses of all concerned can be abnormal in many ways. In the case here described a boy managed to conceal from parents and coach a week-old subluxation of the first cervical vertebra as well as an older, partially healed fracture of the seventh cervical vertebra. Competition must be recognized as normal and desirable in growing children, but it must be kept within bounds. Eleven recommendations are here made as a means of giving pre-teen-agers most of the advantages and a minimum of disadvantages in athletic programs.

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