Well everything.

As MintTalks originally noted, we are occasionally going to venture off into other areas besides dentistry and a favorite area is parenting. A very disturbing article on the health of our children and the sanity of their parents ran a while back in the Wall Street Journal http://on.wsj.com/1bdRErZ announcing to all intents and purposes our kids have given up on athletics. This seems like unbelievable to the millions of parents who line soccer, lacrosse and football fields cheering their kids on. Lacrosse actually is growing leaps and bounds, while competitive soccer has stopped growing and the old standbys – football, baseball and basketball have simply retreated and alarmingly so.

The bottom line is kids are doing something else and if they were all on mission trips or designing the next tooth cavity prevention system, everything would be fine.

The problem is that kids have checked out of competitive sports because they would rather be playing a computer game, or be Facebooking or Twittering. The competition seems . . . disheartening. And where parents used to shove their kids out onto the field with a “Go get them,” now we are really worried about their mental health if they don’t start or don’t get a lot of playing time. The writer says this as someone who saw zero playing time on a football team that went 0 for 12.

I was the worst of a bad lot. But track and football and church league baseball gave me structure, gave me close friends, got me outside, let me run and scream and get knocked down and yelled at by coaches to do it right and try harder and ran faster. (The most memorable moment of my checkered career was when my track coach announced we weren’t shooting for the city title, we were shooting for the Olympics. Yes he was nuts.)

But it appears it’s the average, unspectacular athletes like me are who are missing. The kids who have to work hard just to make the team, who show up everyday to practice, who work their tail off for little reward, they are the ones who have given up and gone home. Where life is easier. And these are the kids who need it most. It doesn’t hurt to try and fail. In fact, that’s called character building. It hurts to sit home, scared to try because you might fail. That’s called hiding from life.

The Journal notes, “Organized sports have long been regarded as a valuable defense against increasing rates of disease-inducing inactivity among America’s youth.” It goes on to note …Because organized sports provide supervision, coaching, structure, social interaction and team-building skills, many health experts believe they represent an ideal solution to youth inactivity. “Youth sports can become the choice solution to the public-health problem based around inactivity,” says Dr. Bergeron of the sports-health institute.

So we’ve pulled out kids off swing sets, we’ve banished climbing trees, we’ve banned exploring through nearby woods, we don’t allow them to bike anywhere except down the driveway and now any hope of normalcy has been removed by encouraging kids to do . . . nothing.

These kids are going to be adults one day. The skills they’re not learning, the frustrations they’re not overcoming, the goals they’re not setting, it’s going to come back on us a country.

And yes, while I would think twice about letting my sons play football today, as a parent I would have to think long and hard about the consequences of sheltering my kids so much, they don’t know the meaning of the word “overcome.”