Is it School Sports or Video Games
Many years ago, the numbers were staggering - over one quarter of a million students played high school sports in Ontario.
And the numbers were up significantly too for coaches - be they teachers, students or people scattered throughout the community taking time off from a job to pitch in.
But now, coaches are apparently in decline and there are no firm numbers indicating that participation numbers for students are up, down or even remain the same. The best answer I was given was - a guess.
There have been numerous reported studies, one from ther Canadian Journal of Public Health, that says academic performance is maintained or even enhanced by increase in a student's level of physical activity. Some students see that as lifting an IPod, playing video games or walking - to the fast food stores. Thousands of tax dollars have been spent with the message - stay in shape and avoid health problems.
I remember when the chatter at school was focused around who was going to be the No. 1 quarterback, the elite hockey player, the track star or even the captain of the cheerleading team. Now, other interests are appealing to teeny-boppers.
Last summer, a Canadian study published by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine reported that by the time adolescents reach high school, most have abandoned vigorous activities like school sports.
Earlier this year, I asked Michael Suraci at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations for numbers that we used to get annually - and haven't for the past five years. He was honest and said the participation numbers, at best, would be a guess. Suraci said school athletic associations, hadn't been submitting information.
Some people claim numbers don't mean anything. Others -- like the Ontario government funding school sports and corporate sponsors wanting to aim their products at young kids -- clearly are interested.
With obese kids continuing to be a concern, lots of high schools are having difficulties getting kids to participate even in intramural sports.
I wanted to stage my own survey. So, last week, I stopped 30 teenagers across the Greater Toronto Area, and asked them what was more appealing to them: video games or playing sports for their school? The final totals: 24-6 for the electronic toys and one stalled while typing a text message to her friend.