Good job, baby! Now can you dribble and keep an eye out for your right wing?Well, parents of newborns, don't say you didn't know better. While those of us with "older kids" (like my two-year-old) might have squandered our chance to turn those chubby thighs into the future hamstrings of the next Beckham, a new parenting trend reported by the New York Times has you right in line to begin Johnny's sports training. Yes, you read that right, sports training. But Johnny can barely walk, you say? No matter. Between baby gyms and DVDs that introduce your 6-month old to baseball, basketball, golf, soccer and tennis by way of an animated monkey, Johnny will be making the Kindergarten A-string in no time.
Sound like satire? If only. At least then we'd be laughing instead of shaking our heads, wondering when someone is going to invent the in utero treadmill.
"I start working [the babies in my family] out in the hospital," Doreen Bolhuis, fitness coach and founder of Gymtrix-a company which offers exercise videos for those as little as 6-month-old-told the Times. "We hear all the time from families that have been with us, 'Our kids are superstars when they're in middle school and they get into sports.' "
Gigi Fernandez, founder of Baby Goes Pro (makers of the aforementioned monkey-guided sports videos) agrees. Citing how the tiny watchers of her series learn the equipment and rules of the game, she concludes, "The first time they go to a baseball field or tennis court, they'll have a clue."
What could be wrong with this? With America's growing obesity epidemic, and kids who are increasingly isolated and reliant on technology, getting up and getting out there is almost always a good idea, isn't it?And yet something about training a 6-month-old just seems a little...off. Teaching baby what a golf club is before she knows for sure what her feet are? Surely that's a little backward. Add to that the fact that by training our kids earlier, we're encouraging them to compete earlier, which in turn leads to earlier injuries, and the problem gets more serious down the road.
"One of the big consequences of the rise of elite travel teams and the trend toward specialization is that many young athletes are now playing virtually year-round, putting more stress on their growing bodies than anyone ever imagined," writes Regan McMahon in Revolution in the Bleachers. "Once they're playing only one sport, they're using the same muscle groups exclusively, which causes repetitive stress or overuse injuries."
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