Alternative sports gaining popularity among youth

Alternative sports gaining popularity among youth
December 21
05:00 2017

In recent years many parents are steering their kids away from contact sports such as football, soccer, hockey and lacrosse in favor of sports with less contact.  The shift seems to come from the fear parents have of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the brain disease that many former NFL players have developed and has manifested since retirement.

The participation in youth football has seen a precipitous dip recently over the news of what CTE could lead to, which includes headaches, memory loss, depression and even suicide.  Other sports such as basketball, tennis, golf and other non- contact sports have seen a rise in participation.

James Taylor Jr., publisher of The Chronicle, is a former collegiate football player.  He is well aware of the dangers of the sport and will not allow his kids to play the sport at such a young age because of the brain trauma that can occur. 

Taylor spoke to his kids about other sports they may have an interest in and after some thought, his two boys, James III and Jacob, came back to him and stated they would love to try the sport of fencing.

Fencing is not a sport that many people gravitate toward because it has more of a niche following due to its nostalgic nature.  For Taylor it was a no brainer to get this boys involved in competition, particularly with sports that are atypical for the African-American community.

“I think competition is good for kids and I always encourage my boys and even my daughter to think outside of the box,” he said.  “We talked about what they wanted to do and they mentioned fencing, so I immediately got on the internet and found coach [Michael] Joyce, and the rest is history.”

“I want my kids to be unique and do their own thing, but primarily I have always been concerned about head injuries.  As someone who has played football my entire life, from the age of 5 all the way through college, I know that head injuries are real and they cause problems in people’s lives.”

The Taylor boys say they heard about the sport of fencing through a classmate at their school.  They say they immediately went to their parents about the prospect of playing the sport and has loved it ever since.

“I like fencing more and more because you have to think, but you also have to use your athleticism, so it is a mix of both worlds,” said Taylor III. 

Jacob Taylor added, “I like the fact that it is more of a historical sport and with fencing you have to use more of your brain but it also takes agility and other athletic skills.”

The two young men said they wanted to try something new other than the typical sports kids their age normally play.  They feel you can still play those other sports as well but fencing allows them to become a more well-rounded athlete.

The Taylor boys are coached by Michael Joyce of the Winston-Salem Fencing Club.  He has been into fencing since the year 2000.  He feels that fencing is a sport that many people should consider because it has many aspects that translate into everyday life such as patience, discipline and dedication.

“Fencing is about understanding rhythm, timing, being able to break the action, controlling someone’s blade and being able to read and understand the language of fencing,” said Joyce.  “You will feel the benefits of it after the first lesson because its all about controlling your body posture and being able to relax.”

Joyce says he has enjoyed coaching the Taylor boys over the last few years.  He says they have the athleticism to compete in the sport down the line but when they couple that with the technical fundamentals of the sport, they can be that much better.

The skills the Taylor boys are learning are great, but for James Taylor, he thinks the fact the boys are using their brains, whether it be through fencing or the classroom, is the most important thing.  He feels their best attribute is the way they think.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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