University of Iowa Health Science Relations and
Daniel Fick, MD
Associate Professor of Family Medicine
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed
Soccer, T-ball, softball, baseball, volleyball, basketball,
football, wrestling, gymnastics, track and field, swimming, tennis,
golf. The list of sports programs seems endless.
Participation in sports helps young people develop an early
appreciation for physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle as well as
develop self-confidence and self-esteem. And let's not forget that
sports are fun!
But what sports are right for your child? Because of the diversity
of program philosophies, objectives, facilities, and leadership, it
is important for you, as a parent, to look at the programs to
determine which will give your child a positive
experience--physically, socially, and emotionally.
First, look at your child's readiness to participate. What is his
or her interest? Do your child's coordination and maturity levels
match those of others in the program? Are the children treated with
respect and given opportunities to learn and participate?
Here is one really important question you shouldn't overlook--Is
your child physically prepared to play this sport? In Iowa, all
student athletes in grades 7 to 12 are required by state law to have
a sports physical prior to participation.
"It is important for parents to realize that most conditions that
limit or disqualify an athlete from participation are discovered in
the health history portion of the physical, not from the exam
itself," says Dan Fick, MD, UI Family Care. "Too often, parents
send children to their physicals without completing the health
history questions. These are as important, and often more important,
to the physician in helping determine the safe level of participation
for your child."
A comprehensive physical is a good way to help you decide if your
child can meet the physical demands of the sport.
- What is the coach's philosophy?
- What are the coach's qualifications?
- s adequate time spent developing the skills required to safely
play the sport?
- Are fair play, teamwork, and sportsmanship important parts of
the team philosophy?
- How important is winning? Is the officiating knowledgeable and
- Is there a strong network of parents supporting the
- Do their values match those of your family?
- s the time commitment--games and practices--something the
family can live with?
- Are you aware of all the costs associated with