Did you play a sport when you were growing up? When I was a kid we rode our bikes outside for hours in the summer (only being allowed to come home when it was time to sit down for dinner), walked to school, and dabbled in a variety of sports and activities for fun.
In today's society, there is more emphasis on sport specialization from a very early age (we're talking 3 or 4 years old). As parents we mean well and most likely sign our kids up for sports to keep them active, but what happens when a child spends years playing one sport only to find out they aren't good enough to continue on when they reach high school? Does playing a sport actually improve a child's fitness? What about the increased rates of overuse injuries due to sport specialization? What options are there for kids who want to participate in something physical, but just aren't good enough to make the team? Seventy percent of kids drop out of their primary sport before they're 13. Most of those say their sport should be more fun. Decades of research and practice paint a very clear picture: early specialization in one sport is a bad idea. Read more
Don't get me wrong, sports definitely have their place, but if the goal is to keep kids physically active and develop a lifelong love of fitness, then we have to figure out a way to make it FUN and we can't ignore nutrition, metabolic conditioning, gymnastics or weightlifting.
Theoretical Hierarchy of Development
Greg Glassman, the Founder of CrossFit, explains this hierarchy in the CrossFit Journal article, What is Fitness. This Hierarchy is a visual of what it takes to be a complete athlete and where each discipline falls in order to help people excel at a chosen sport. As a society, we have flipped this pyramid on it's head which does not set our kids up for success. Pursue fitness, then sport, rather than fitness through sport. Focusing on each of these levels in the proper order will result in more well rounded and happier kids!