(August 31, 2013) The United States Tennis Association (USTA), in collaboration with industry health and fitness experts, hosted a press event and youth tennis exhibition on Court 6 on Saturday at US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to show that an early, positive experience in sports helps to create a lifelong commitment to an active lifestyle.
For the first time in history, this generation of children is expected to live five years less than their parents. Physical inactivity is an epidemic. Research shows developed economies such as the United States have reduced physical activity levels by as much as 32 percent in fewer than two generations. Creating an early, positive experience in all youth sports and engaging families and children will help to provide a solution.
The USTA is trying to lead the change though its youth participation initiative, 10 and Under Tennis, an ongoing effort to encourage young people to get active and start playing tennis. Families can log on to YouthTennis.com to learn about thousands of events around the country where they can experience tennis throughout the month of September.
On the panel for Saturday’s event were Bob Harper, Fitness expert, star of The Biggest Loser & NY Times Best-Selling Author, Alexis Chiang Colvin, M.D., USTA Chief Medical Officer, Bill Kohl, Professor at the University of Texas, and Sue Hunt, USTA Chief Marketing Officer.
“I really do believe that the parents that I’ve talked with and worked with, it is about not only getting our children to make healthier food choices and eat better and be more active, but setting some sort of guideline and regulation for our children when it comes to playing with those computer devices,” Bob Harper said. “I really believe we have to get our kids to limit that time, to get them out more, to be more active.”
“The kids I’ve been working with, to get them to play tennis, think about how I would approach the kids that I work with. I have two godchildren that are extremely active. They’re running around all the time playing so many different sports and activities. I think that’s what it’s about.”
“My mission is to get out there, get kids more active, get them playing whatever sport they want to be playing. The last thing I would want to see is a child in a gym on a treadmill or something like that. But what I want to see is the parents taking their kids on a weekend getaway of hiking, biking.
“I think it starts at home. It starts with our parents. Our parents have got to become involved. We have to get our parents getting our kids to be more active, but they need to be more active. Our children watch what we do. They are sponges.”
“One of the first things you learn in medical school is that kids are not little adults,” said Dr. Colvin. “ They’re different from adults physically, emotionally, physiologically and emotionally. Sports should be tailored for our child, not for a little adult.
“Play is the work of children. We know the primary reason kids are going to play sports is because it’s fun. If a child has fun playing sports, they’ll continue to do so.
“The USTA helps promote kids having fun playing tennis rather than focusing on winning and competing by eliminating rankings and national competitions for 10‑and‑under tennis.
“The USTA is also working with industries to help develop kid‑sized equipment. This is important for two reasons. First, it allows kids to learn the proper technique when playing tennis and helps to reduce the risk of injury.”
“It is just a coalition at this point in time,” Sue Hunt said of the coalition and collaboration. “We have representatives here from Partnership For a Healthy America and the Aspen Institute and Design to Move. We all want to come together and define what that is and get messaging out.”