Controlled sports permeate the everyday life of American society. Even young children are affected through their exposure to organized athletics, which include baseball/softball, soccer, football, karate/judo, wrestling, field/ice hockey, lacrosse, boxing, and rugby. Participation in such sports can have both a positive and negative effect on the lives of children.
Griffin (1998) offers research and personal insight on organized athletics in an attempt to help parents make decisions about their children and sports. One of the main issues the author addresses is what impact sports have on the social, physical, and moral development of children. The basis of this book is that children see sports as more than just enjoyment and the enhancement of physical skills, particularly for the child who is an enthusiastic participant: "sports is about growing up, the direction life will take for this child. Sports can have a significant effect on the success or failure of that process" (Griffin 19).
The author concludes that once a child chooses an organized sport, and becoming seriously involved in it, then it becomes important for the child's maturation process to encounter success. Success is interpreted as fulfilling the standards of the particular sport, e.g., a good batting average in baseball. The child may have to stretch in order to achieve the standard, a process that Griffin sees as part of the reward: "the best circumstance for children to be in is where they confront challenges just beyond their current personal capability and are successful in meeting them" (Griffin 37). Towards this end, Griffin devotes considerable space to educating parents on creating a nurturing environment that will help their child succeed in sports.
Greendorfer (1992) examines the types of childhood influences that help determine the rate of participation of women in sports. Women participate in sports at rates that are far below those...