Sports addictions could harm family relationships - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Sports addictions could harm family relationships

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A new report by UAB states that sports obsessions can have a damaging effect on relationships. (abc3340.com) A new report by UAB states that sports obsessions can have a damaging effect on relationships. (abc3340.com)

Parents always want their children to play well if they participate in sports. But when does that passion become, too much?

A new report by UAB states that sports obsessions can have a damaging effect on relationships, especially between parents and children who play sports.

Dr. Sandra Sims, associate professor of human studies in the UAB school of education believes parents who obsess on any sport can actually prevent children from playing.

"Anytime you do anything and go overboard, there's a problem with it," says Sims. "(Children) get worn out, they get burned out. Whether it's from a parent pushing them too much or a coach really pressing and saying 'we got to win'."

Sims, was a middle and high school coach for 20 years.

"For most students who play sports, they play for a social event. They play for the joy of it. When it becomes a job, when the sport becomes a job, students will burn out, they just walk away from it," Sims explains.

According to Sims, when parents put too much of an emphasis on sports, it can turn something that was once fun, into a chore.

"There's a fun value there. They have to have fun, and they have to feel worthy. And a lot of times when we put such an emphasis on winning, somebody is going to walk off a field, off a court and they're not going to win," she says.

Joan Leary is a counselor who has seen how sports obsessions can have a negative effect on family relationships.

"Sports is mood altering. People really get excited about it, and passionate. It can definitely be an issue," says Leary. "I think it's debilitating and harmful to the child to put so much pressure on winning and excelling."

Leary says as with any family issue, it's important for parents and their children to communicate.

"I think it would be a great family meeting to talk about, elicit from your child, 'what is it that you want to get out of sports?'," Leary says. "Really put it all out on the table. I believe in being transparent in a family and in a relationship and talking about things."
 
Sims offers this solution.

"We've got to make it 'play' again. And having fun I think would make a big, big difference. That's an objective for coaches and it's an objective for parents that we need to get that done," says Sims.

UAB offers these tips to parents, for managing a sports addiction:

•Set limits, such as one sporting event per week.
•Substitute new behaviors for sports viewing, such as exercise or spending time with family or friends.
•Seek help from a mental-health professional to help address concerns regarding your habit.

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