Archive for February 1st, 2010
And not just in parents who have to lug equipment or sit for long stretches on hard, backless bleachers.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine has published a study finding that teen athletes are at much greater risk for lower back pain than their more sedentary peers — especially if those teens have played sports since they were very young.
According to the study’s findings, 71.1% of the teenagers who were highly active in sports reported experiencing at least one bout of lower back pain in their lives compared to 61.8% of the moderately active students and 50% of the students who never played organized sports.
Nearly 15% of the highly competitive athletes noted back pain that was accompanied with pain and numbness in the legs compared to 8.5% of the moderately active athletes and 4% of the non-athletes.
Roughly 10% of the highly active students said that they missed a day of school because of their back pain in comparison to 5.7% of the moderately active students and 4.4% of the students who never played youth sports.
The most common sport for lower back pain? Volleyball. Least common? Soccer.
The study’s authors strongly advised they were not implying that teenagers should quit sports. Instead, they recommended more research and awareness on postures and positions that would prevent back pain. However, with the risk of back pain, concussions, overuse injuries, and so many other aches and pains suffered by children in high-level youth sports, somewhere a kid playing video games is saying, “Feeling great here!”
Fred Pearce of the Guardian newspaper in London is noting that in Europe, they ain’t makin’ babies like they used to. It’s the subject of his book, “Peoplequake: Mass Migration, Ageing Nations and the Coming Population Crash.” The upside for American children today is fewer future Dirk Nowitzkis to compete against for a spot on an NBA roster.
Thirty years ago, 23 European countries had fertility above replacement levels; now none does, with only France, Iceland, Albania, Britain and Ireland anywhere near. And last year’s economic downturn threatens to depress fertility further. “There is a good bit of evidence that hard economic times cause people to delay having babies or not have one altogether,” says Carl Haub, from the Population Reference Bureau in the US.
In Germany, where fertility has been low for more than a generation, demographers report a large decline in the desired family size. “Today, 48% of German men under 40 agree that you can have a happy life without children. When their fathers were asked the same question at the same age, only 15% agreed,” says Europe’s top demographer, Wolfgang Lutz of the Vienna Institute of Demography. Thirty per cent of German women today say they don’t intend to have children at all.
Once a country has very low fertility for a generation, it begins to run out of young women able to gestate future generations. Germany is there already: it has only half as many children under 10 as adults in their 40s. Demographer Peter McDonald calculates that if Italy gets stuck with recent fertility levels, and fails to top up with foreign migrants, it will lose 86% of its population by the end of the century, falling to 8 million compared with today’s 56 million. Spain will lose 85%, Germany 83% and Greece 74%.
Jesse Ausubel, a futurologist at Rockefeller University in New York, fears “the twilight of the west” as Europe’s population thins and ages. “Civilisations have simply melted away because of poor reproductive rates of the dominant class . . . The question may now be whether, underneath the personal decision to procreate, lies a subliminal social mood influencing the process. The subliminal mood of Europe could now be for a blackout after 1,000 years on stage.”
Of course, Pearce also notes that the world population is still rising rapidly, fueled by high birth rates in less developed nations. Presumably, some of those kids will make it to Europe, causing all sorts of culture clashes as the old, white order struggles to keep what they see as theirs as the new, not-so-white order moves in. I think we’re somewhat familiar with that concept in America. Hey, as long as the travel team check clears, it’s all good, isn’t it?
By the way, the United States birth rate is about replacement level (2,100 births per 1,000 women). I have four kids, so I think I can say my wife and I have more than done our part to ensure the continuation of the youth sports hegemony.
(Hat tap to The Urbanophile, a great site for city planning and demography dorks such as myself. Or even if you’re not a dork.)