I want to respond to the Dec. 22 editorial “Students neglect physical exercise.” I agree that children are playing more computer games and are less active outside. I have a child in elementary school and I see that children whose parents are physically active are also active. So, on one side, parents need to show children how fun exercise can be and make an effort to do sports together as a family.
I want to also say there are fewer options for children to play outside. I live in Kyoto, which has few interesting playgrounds; a stone slide and a few swings don’t count. City planners should look at areas like the banks of the Kamogawa River and build playgrounds.
Look at the wonderful, small- yet-exciting play areas built by the city of Frankfurt along the Main River. Every 100 meters or so there is a different play area: a pirate ship to conquer, a skate boarding track, a rope pyramid to climb, etc. It doesn’t have to be large or expensive, just varied and something that will capture children’s imaginations. That will get them moving.
One of my pet peeves is the sports clubs available to children in Japan. They are just too serious; they don’t allow a child to simply do a sport for enjoyment. Take swimming class — you have to go four or five times a week. As for baseball and soccer clubs — if you miss a practice you’re benched. This might be good for a driven child who wants to excel, but it leaves behind those children who might be interested in a sport but don’t want necessarily to become an Olympian.
Sports should be fun — not a chore. It shouldn’t be one way or nothing.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.