The Arizona Coaches Association is concerned about legislation that seeks to ban food options in Arizona under the guise that it will address the growing problem of childhood obesity. Unfortunately, such a simple approach may not produce the intended results and does not teach proper nutrition. Childhood obesity is a complex issue that must be addressed with nutrition and physical education, both at home and in school. We need to educate students about nutrition and fitness for life. Students need to make informed decisions by researching the facts. They need to be critical thinkers, which is a goal of our educational system. We want to educate the students about their health to make them responsible and accountable for their actions. We must teach a balanced approach to eating and living an active lifestyle to prevent obesity and obesity related illnesses. Since no one food or beverage is the cause of obesity, a ban will not work.
Obesity is caused by many factors including excess calories, even nutritious calories, and lack of physical activity. There are genetic factors that also contribute. As anyone who has attempted to maintain a healthy body knows, the most important means of defense is education on the importance of a healthy, balanced life that includes turning off the TV and moving.
The Arizona Republic and members of the Arizona State Legislature should realize that the very companies they target with this legislation also provide scholarships, employee mentoring programs and educational grants to schools throughout the state. Selling sponsorships for school events will be increasingly difficult if we lose our biggest supporters and gain nothing. Schools, and athletics in particular, benefit from the relationship with the companies who help fund purchases of physical education equipment, sports programs and after-school activities.
The Arizona Coaches Association supports any legislation that is educational in its format and encourages students to keep active through sports and after-school programs. Students gain leadership, teamwork skills and self-confidence through our efforts. They carry this foundation into adulthood and are more likely to stay active throughout their lives.
It is shortsighted to suggest that by working with the beverage and vending industries to fund student activities we are undermining efforts of parents to teach their children to eat healthful foods. As coaches, we are sometimes the only role models in students’ lives who reinforce staying active and eating healthy. An occasional sugary snack or beverage is not contrary to healthy living if consumed as part of an otherwise balanced diet.
If we want to influence students’ choices we need to properly fund nutrition and physical education in our schools and communities. ON ANOTHER NOTE…During the half time of the 4A-5A
Football All-Star Game on June 17, LETS has partnered with ACA and will recognize 5 student athletes from Arizona that have excelled most in the combined roles of player, student, and community leader. One applicant will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship at the event. For application/nominee forms please go to http://www.letsorg.org/scholarship.aspx or contact Lee Brush at 480-225-5404.
AND FINALLY… a reminder about upcoming ACA meetings: the Winter Sports Selection meeting is Sunday, March 5, and the Spring Sports Selection meeting is Sunday, May 14. The Coach of the Year banquet and Scholar Athlete awards is Sunday, May 21. Go to www.azcoach.net for more information and to download the scholarship forms to nominate your students.