Remember the days of sweating in the sun as you chased a ball around the field, or tried to hit a ball over the fence, or maybe even tried to see how fast you could run around a track filled with cinders and if you were lucky enough a track that might have been blacktopped? Ahhh, childhood memories! These days were filled with sweat, blood, sheer exhaustion, cramps, sometimes tears, laughter, fun, victories and losses. After the long days of competition, how were we rewarded? With SLICED ORANGES!! I remember looking into that big bowl trying to find the perfect juicy slice that was cut just right, that had few visible seeds (there weren’t seedless oranges yet), and that looked like it had nice juicy pulpy sections. My teammates and I would be like pigs around the trough at feeding time trying to locate that perfect slice. We would sink our teeth into that juicy pulp while recapping the day’s event. As we looked around, you would notice the juice dripping down a teammate’s chin as they would smear it across their jersey. As they wiped their chin, the natural sugars from the orange juice would take hold in between their fingers that would make them stick together. That pure fruit juice would reinvigorate our systems.
As I am now an adult and attend my child’s sporting events, I started to think - Where are the Oranges? Our kids are still putting out top notch performances just like we used some 20-30 years ago but after the events they are now rewarded with salty chips, cookies, and candy. The natural sugars from the oranges that made our fingers and chins so sticky are now replaced with the stickiness of marshmallows, frosting, and chocolate. The natural juices from the oranges have been replaced with sugary fruit drinks. As I look out across the field, court, or pitch, I don’t see much in the form of healthy nutrition being supplied to our young aspiring athletes. If I am lucky, I see a bottle of spring water basking in the sun as it sits by its lonesome waiting to be drank; but it is usually overlooked for a sport drink.
We spend so much time, energy, money, and effort to watch them succeed, to give them the best resources to compete on a high level but we place nutrition on the backburner. Not to mention, the efforts that our children are giving cannot be in vain in relation to the nutrition that we then give them after their efforts. Why does nutrition, more times than not, take a back seat. Let’s not short change our young athletes from a nutrition standpoint but educate them on healthy living. These benefits we can provide our children give them the ability to perform at their full potential. It starts with us. So let’s start one slice at a time and make our children’s nutrition a priority. My challenge to everyone reading this – buy a huge bag of oranges, slice ‘em up, and tell those kids – dig in!!
Kenrick Smith - Be a part of the K17Sport Lifestyle.
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