Kids and Sport IELTS Reading Academic Passage with Answers
Reading Passage 2
Kids and Sport
Two Italian psychologists, Vincenzo Marte and Giovanni Notarnicola, describe the traditional spontaneous practice of sport by children -climbing trees, riding a bicycle along quiet roads, racing their friends across the fields – as an activity of freedom, a special activity of discovery and learning. In the case of free sporting activity, the child’s time is given up entirely to the activity, as can be seen in the endless games of football young children play, which may then be followed by bicycle races and/or a swim in the river, for example.
Today, however, children’s discovery of sport has become very different. It is often parents who take their children, when they are very young, to the swimming pool or to the sports grounds or sports halls. Children’s first experience of sport thus takes place as an organised activity, which they see as organisation of their free time. By organising sport for children, and often deciding for them, we unfortunately create an imbalance preventing them from managing their own play/sports time, thus denying them an opportunity of autonomy and independence as was possible in the past.
A first possible reason for the imbalance in the practice of sport by children is therefore linked to the urban society we live in today. We need not regret the past; it is rather a question of knowing how to recreate this freedom in our towns and in the country, where sport is increasingly based on organised leisure activities. Doing one sport is now the rule in clubs. Sports grounds are often on the outskirts of cities, and are overcrowded and invariably enclosed, while recreational areas such as parks or hard-packed surfaces, are very few and far between. How can we find the balance of a varied and spontaneous relationship to sport under such conditions?
Some interesting answers have already been suggested, which take into account the need to recreate this freedom. Marte and Notarnicola have shown that children who have experienced such freedom were considered by sports trainers to be more capable when they joined organised sport aged 12-13. Their study concluded that no formal training, no matter how early in life it took place, could replace these first experiences.
Measures which would reverse this imbalance include: increasing the number of sports facilities which encourage self-organisation by the children, and also setting up unstructured playing areas with little in the way of equipment. Areas where street sport can be practised need to be established and sports clubs which offer multidisciplinary sports training should be supported. Children should be offered pre-school activity where they can be discover different sports.
For children, sport remains a special kind of discovery and learning, no matter how much adults limit and control the practice of early intensive training. Here is the second example of imbalance in children’s sport. Today, sport is practised with early intensive training from the youngest possible age. Sometimes this is even before the age of six and is usually one specific sport within an organised framework. When adult-style competitions are introduced at an early age, the conditions which encourage a balanced development of children through sport are no longer respected.
Today, early intensive training is much more widely on offer. Many sports organisations claim that they are forced to do to this type of training because of what is called ‘the golden age’ to acquire the physical skills. It is considered unthinkable for a young skater or gymnast to miss this period, because if they did so, they would fall so far behind the best, that they could never hope to catch up. Faced with this demand for early ability, it is important that a safety net is put in place to maximise the benefits and minimise the disadvantages of such intensive training.
Why do very young children give up sport? The most common reason for leaving a sport is to change to another sport, which in itself is no bad thing. However, children may leave a sport because they believe that they have received too much criticism and too many negative assessments. We know that young children, up to the age of eleven or twelve, cannot assess their own level of competence. They believe that if they are making an effort, then this in itself is a sign of their competence.
We also know that young children are particularly sensitive to criticism from adults or peers. Trainers must therefore pay particular attention to this and avoid excessive criticism. They should also avoid any strategies that discriminate against the child: for example in team sports, naming first choice players and reserves. It should be remembered that primary school children’s main desire is to have fun and socialise.
The desire to improve and become a good competitor will develop later. This brief example shows that knowledge of child development is indispensable for those who take care of children at this age. It is up to trainers, sports doctors and psychologists to implement the measures necessary to limit this excessive early practice of sport by children.
A third source of imbalance which threatens children and sport is parental attitudes. The American psychologist, Rainer Martens, emphasises that, ‘too often children’s joy of sports is destroyed by adults who want glory through victory.’ Several studies have shown that parental pressure is high on the list of reasons why children leave sport. The presence of mothers and fathers can prevent children from considering sport as their own, where they can learn to master technical difficulties, manage interpersonal relations, and experience success and failure. As Martens highlights, ‘adults are solely to blame if joy and sadness become synonymous, to a child, with victory or defeat.’
If the children make the decisions, this ensures that they enjoy being a child in sport, and are relaxed with their development as human beings. We need only observe the activity in a school playground, where games are organised on an improvised playing field, to understand that children show genetic traces of the hunter instinct, which naturally leads them to physical activity.
Sport is included as something they want, and which they identify both as a means of release and as a form of self-expression. By acting as a route to self-discovery, sport gives children both the opportunity to know their limits, and to acquire tools which will allow them to surpass them. Playing sport is a source of learning, progress and pleasure; an additional way of enriching life. ielts-reading
Complete the summary below using NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage.
Marte & Notarnicola define the spontaneous sporting games of children as activities of 29. ______ . Because today sport is often decided and 30. ______ by parents, children lose their autonomy. A first imbalance occurs because 31. ______ are out of the city and often crowded, whilst there are a limited number of open recreational areas where children can play spontaneously. Children should discover and learn about sports themselves. IELTSXpress
The second imbalance occurs because they start early 32. ______ training very young and participate in only 33. ______ specific activity. Children often give up a sport because of negative 34. ______ It is important that trainers avoid excessive criticism of young children, who should have 35. ______ at sporting activities. Another reason that children may give up sport is the attitudes of their parents. This third imbalance occurs as parents exert 36. ______ on children to win rather than to enjoy sport.
Choose the correct letter A-D.
37. Children’s expression of this ‘freedom’ is important because …
A. it allows them to be lazy.
B. it means they can learn to swim and ride a bike.
C. it puts them in charge of what they do and when they do it.
D. it relieves the parents from transporting their children to sports.
38. Ways of allowing children to develop this ‘freedom’ include …
A. making transport to sports clubs free.
B. offering a range of different sports in each sports club.
C. offering sporting tuition to pre-school children.
D. making children play outside regularly.
39. To encourage young children to continue with sport,we should give them …
A. accurate feedback about their ability at sport.
B. experience of failure as well as success.
C. experience of being reserves as well as first choice team members.
D. the opportunity to mix socially with their peers at sport.
40. The author believes that …
A. children’s sport should not be organised by adults.
B. playing sport is an important: part of children’s development.
C. children need to learn that sport is about losing as well as winning.
D. children can be psychologically and physiologically damaged by sport.
Kids and Sports IELTS Reading Answers
31. SPORTS GROUNDS/SPORTS HALLS