Childrearing

Would You Let Your Young Daughters Kickbox?

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umzupPyFLU8?version=3] This weekend I was walking down a Brooklyn sidewalk as a karate class got out. A dozen young boys streamed out of the building in their martial arts uniforms and I thought it would be cool if my own daughters got into something like that. But as I read this story about a kickboxing fight in Australia this weekend, I’m not so sure.

Two girls, aged seven and eight, fought to a draw in a £70 prize kickboxing match. They were wearing headgear, shin pads and gloves

Kitted out with headgear, shin pads and gloves, the youngsters punched and kicked before it was declared a draw and both collected £70 prize money. I know that kickboxing is, as John Cusack notes in “Say Anything“, the “sport of the future.” But now that it is our future, I’m not so sure. Should children that young really be involved in sports with such deliberate blows to the head?

The Daily Mail reports that the fight has caused some outrage:

Before Jasmine and seven-year-old Georgina ‘Punchout’ Barton stepped into the ring on Queensland’s Gold Coast, Miss Anna Petrou, spokeswoman for the Australian brain injury organisation Synapse, said even minimal force could cause serious injury and headgear would not offer complete protection.

‘It doesn’t take a lot of force for the brain to be impacted,’ she said. …

When she headed out into the ring to cheers and claps from the crowd, Jasmine smiled confidently – but soon the tears started to flow before the first round was over.

Are people only upset about this because it’s young girls? Would they also be outraged at young boys kickboxing? My great-grandfather was a boxer back in the day and my brother did the sport at the Air Force Academy. I respect boxing and the martial arts. Still, I think that it’s an unbelievably dangerous sport with huge risks and the willful — as opposed to incidental — violence is troublesome. I’m not sure I’d want my children in a prize fight before the third grade.