In Episode 79, Dr. Daniel O’Neill, Board-certified Orthopaedic Surgeon with an added Certificate in Sports Medicine, and a Doctorate in Exercise and Sports Psychology, Author of Survival of the Fit: How Physical Education Ensures Academic...
In Episode 79, Dr. Daniel O’Neill, Board-certified Orthopaedic Surgeon with an added Certificate in Sports Medicine, and a Doctorate in Exercise and Sports Psychology, Author of Survival of the Fit: How Physical Education Ensures Academic Achievement and a Healthy Life, and master of physical identity, talks with Phil about physical identity, his books, the negative side of tech and screens, why we need a “PE Revolution” in our schools, why we need to exercise in the morning, the need for more free play, athletes vs. non-athletes, “safetyism,” why parents shouldn’t go to all their kids’ games, why we don’t need to teach our kids to win, and the different ways specialization is hurting our kids, among other important topics. Specifically, Dr. O’Neill discusses:
Resources and Links from this Episode
Phil: Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thank you so much for being a part of this show. Thank you for engaging in the conversation that we so want you to be a part of. And I get excited every time I get to have a great guest on which seems to be every time we're having these interviews.
So, you know, I don't know if we're just like, Or if we're just having some just great folks on or both, but today is no exception to that today. I have Dr. Daniel O'Neill. He is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon has an added certificate, is sports medicine, a doctorate exercise, sports psychology at Boston University.
He's got all kinds of academies and other things on his resume that you can go check out at his website, which we'll get to, and we'll have on the show notes here. But he is also a, has a couple of books out there, one on knee surgery, which I have no doubt, a lot of ER, on knee injuries. A lot of you guys out there unfortunately will be interested in that.
We're not necessarily talking a lot about that today, but his other book called Survival of the Fit. That we're going to get into that quite a bit [00:01:00] today. So if that interests you and you want to hear all about physical identity and a PE revolution and a few other things that are just some cool things, we get to talk about, stay, you know, stay on this.
And I have no doubt. You'll learn some things and hopefully you'll be able to engage the conversation with me afterwards as well. So with that, Dr. Neil, how are you doing?
[00:01:22] Dr. O'Neill: I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me. Yeah,
[00:01:24] Phil: absolutely. And you know, it's funny how we got connected because I had, we had done an interview recently with Jay Demerit.
He was a former US National Team player and, and he he'd played pros over in Europe and all this other stuff. And one of the things he said at the beginning of his interview was unfortunately in our world right now. We are coaching to the 1%, not to the 99%. And you know, this is a National Team player who played in Europe, who gets it right?
And so a friend of mine heard you on a different podcast. And he said, oh, it totally reminded me of your interview. And you got to get this guy. And so I immediately went and got the book and then got in touch with you. [00:02:00] And I'm so glad that we were able to make this happen. So without, you know what, we'll get into that stuff in a little bit.
But before we do, can you just share, you know, briefly share your story, just how you really developed your passion for physical education, physical identity, and and where you got, how you got to be, where you are today with all those degrees and certificates.
[00:02:19] Dr. O'Neill: Yeah, really Phil like I. I almost feel guilty about my story because I've just kind of fallen into these things one after the other.
And I've always fancied myself to be the laziest person around and try to do things the easy way always. And so I got to college and I wanted to be an environmental studies major. And you know, these kids are much tougher than I am and they're sleeping in the, you know, the woods every night and they know everything already.
And my chemistry professors saw me struggling with this. He says, I think you should be a chemistry major. And and so I went into that at Bard college and then. I did a [00:03:00] summer of chemistry research and I wasn't passionate about it. You know, who I was. I was more thinking about the weekends and such, and he says, well, you know, what about medical school?
And so I had my stack of chemistry applications and medical school applications. And so I went into medical school and I had another great mentor in medical school, the anatomy professor, and he got me interested in more of the surgical things. And, and then the surgeons that I worked with, they're like, you know, this is how you really help people with surgery, you know, not giving them tablets.
And and one thing led to another and then I didn't want to deal with really sick people. Although my professor, there was a heart surgeon. He says, don't you want us to wrestle with. And I'm like, no, I don't think I want,
maybe I'll do orthopaedics where, you know, people do great and they go back on the field and that's where the sports medicine came in. And then after a few years in my practice of orthopaedic surgery, I realized that the mental game had a [00:04:00] big effect on what was happening and what was not happening in terms of not only injury, but rehabilitation from injury and getting back on the field.
So I went down to Boston university. Now I got a degree in exercise and sports psychology, and I had a great mentor down there, lens of Koski and and, and that's how it was gone. And then with this. I spent the beginning of my career, trying to get my kids to rest more because these athletes and these young kids were going at lightening speed and, and constantly busy.
And then little by little over the course of the, of the decades, these kids are doing less and less. And, and, and what we all know now in retrospect is 2007. You know, the year the iPhone came out, that's the year that everything changed. And w w once children had computers in their hands and in their pockets you know, the world changed.
And, and and that's why I wrote the book about trying to reverse this change and trying to get our kids up and moving and, and, [00:05:00] and and, and getting active.
[00:05:02] Phil: Yeah. You know, and we'll get into the details of this book and that conversation, and really, you know, what, what what it's all about, you know, because that's, that's why we want to help coaches, help parents help others who are, who have a desire to really help their kids that they're coaching or teaching or raising flourish.
So how can we keep what we're going to talk about the physical identity here in a little bit, but before we do, can you just share? And I kinda, I kinda think I know what you're going to say here, but you know, what, what is your personal why, your life purpose? Like, why do you, why do you get up every morning?
What gets you going and how are you living it out each day?
[00:05:39] Dr. O'Neill: Yeah, I really am lazy. And so the things that. I get up because I'm interested in that next day, I'm interested to see what happens. And so it's not like, you know, a chore for me. And so one of the beautiful things about a career in medicine is that you have so many ways [00:06:00] that you can go.
And so, when I realized, okay, this there's a mental, there's a big mental component to everything we do in, in medicine. Maybe I can study that and you know, I'm two hours north of Boston and here was a sports psychology program I could enter. And so, you know, boom, I fall into that and then. You know, my professor, there was like, well, you know, I was ready to leave after a master's.
He's like, ah, you know, you've done all the work, you know, why don't you just get your doctorate? So I stayed. And so I've had these great mentors and so every day there's something that I want to learn and something interesting. The next day I just went out to dinner. My nephew was at the university of Virgin Islands.
I know everybody's feeling sorry for me. Cause I had to take him and his friends out to dinner down at St. Thomas. And so I sat and had dinner with five Marine biology students to know. It was fantastic, but the energy from these five kids that are just getting their bachelor's in Marine biology and [00:07:00] those kids seem like they reminded me of me because they are getting up every day and they know they're going to learn something really cool that next day.
And I think for me, that's what a lot of it is. And so I've, I've changed my, my life and my practice. I don't do primary surgery anymore, which I miss, but I also knew I wanted to go down this other road of, of of the book and, and kind of trying to make a bigger picture change with physical education and getting kids.
[00:07:29] Phil: Yeah. So let's get into that. Let's you know, that the book is Survival of the Fit and the subtitle is How Physical Education Ensures Academic Achievement and a Healthy Life. So you can find it wherever books are sold, we'll have the link in the, in the show notes. But survival of the fit, pretty easy to remember, but that subtitle is kind of what I want to focus on just for a few minutes, you know, and we talked about physical identity.
I definitely want you to get into that, which I know you will, but oftentimes, you know, at best, sometimes we see PE in schools as an add-on, right. It's really [00:08:00] an unnecessary part of school. People get mad when their kids have to do it. Why do my kids have to do that? It's not really school. Why would you posit,
I'm assuming you'd posit that that's completely wrong. And what does PE have to do with academic achievement?
[00:08:14] Dr. O'Neill: So, as I say, in a million ways in the book, there is no STEM without fitness. There is no science and engineering and technology and mathematics. We know that fitness is directly tied to academic achievement.
So you have to be fit. Our children today are not fit. And so the next Steve Jobs, the next Yo-Yo Ma; the next Condoleezza Rice. these, these brilliant people are not coming along. If they, if they do not have some level of fitness. And as I said before, this, the iPhone changed everything. The personal computer, the, the pocket computer changed everything.
And so [00:09:00] now these kids are not doing any activities. And as a result, they're getting sicker and sicker. They have diabetes, they have high blood pressure. They have all these what we used to call adult diseases or diseases of civilization or Western diseases, but they have these diseases in. Childhood and teenage years.
And then you add on to that, the depression and anxiety, and so much of this can be related to physical fitness because again, physical fitness is tied to your brain. So I call it that body mind connection for years, we've talked about the links to Alzheimer's and what's the one thing you can do for Alzheimer's be physically active.
It's not doing sudukus. it's not doing piano lessons. It's not learning Japanese. Although those are all good things to do. But if you had to do one thing, it'd be going out there and getting your heart rate up. And it's the same thing when you're, when you're 13 years old, when you're eight years old, you've [00:10:00] got to get your body going and that's, what's going to stimulate your brain to go.
And that's why physical education is the most important subject in the school? Absolutely. Hands down, no question about it because the kids are not getting physical activity outside of school and that's the big difference. And. We have to stop thinking about physical education, the way it was when we were kids, because it is different.
And I can tell you right now, anything, any education data from 10 years ago or more it's useless because the world changed. The world changed when we weren't looking. All of the decision-makers, the administrators and the principals and the teachers they're all over the age of 40 and they don't know they have, they know, but it's so hard for them to acknowledge that, that this changed has to happen.
And [00:11:00] so it's tough and that's what the book is really all about and trying to make people
[00:11:04] Phil: realize. Yeah. And you said a few things as far as getting the mind going, and I know one of the things you talk about is why PE in the morning is. More effective and important than, you know, P in the afternoon. I look at Mike like Mike, my daughter's high school and my two oldest kids went through that high school as well.
They have to do, they're forced to do two years of PE at least two years of PE, but that could be first period, or it could be last period, you know, and I'd have some of my soccer players that I coach soccer. They'd come from PE in six period to soccer practice. Why is it not as effective in what you're talking about?
Why is it important to do that in the morning? And why would you posit that everyone should be doing that in the morning?
[00:11:46] Dr. O'Neill: You are revving up the brain. It's that simple. We have these big brains because we have these amazing bodies. We have these bodies that can run up and down the soccer pitch for, you know, 90 [00:12:00] minutes at a time, we have these insanely sensitive machines at the end of our arms that can do incredible things.
And it takes a big brain to run that, that machine. So the, the. Brain is there for your body. And so if you're not using your body, if you're not exercising your body and stimulating your body, you're not going to stimulate your brain. So we've got it. It's just a reverse thought pattern. It's not the mind body connection.
It's the body mind connection that people have to understand. And then once they get that now, you know, before school, get the kids running around and get the kids tearing up the gym floor in the winter time before school, now they're ready for the first and second or so period, then get a gym class in there, get their heart rates up again, get their brains stimulated again.
Now get the science and math and the tougher classes, then get them out for recess. And don't, you know, as we were talking about before the fact that that your wife sees. [00:13:00] At recess time running around and doing stuff is brilliant because so often what you'll see at recess is kids hanging around and chatting and talking on their phones or texting each other.
And that's the absolute worst. We want to rev up their heart again at recess. Now they're ready for the end of the day. And then hopefully they go home and they play ball or they go and do some organized sports. But again, it's gotta be this constant stimulation of our body to stimulate our brain. That data is absolutely irrefutable.
There's been study after study, after study, after study, the data is there. And then when you talk to administrators and teachers, and obviously I've talked about this a lot with them. They talk about the handcuffs that they have. Well, it's, it's a money thing or it's a, a physical plan thing. You know, we don't have the room or it's scheduling and blah, blah, blah.
But we've got to throw all that out the window because the world is different in 2022 and [00:14:00]beyond than it was even in 2000.
[00:14:03] Phil: Yeah, absolutely. And so, you know, they're obviously administrative. Are under a structure that they, that they didn't choose. Absolutely. So we do need to get further up and say, Hey, this, this is a problem.
In the meantime, just so folks are, you know, what we were talking about before my wife is a PE teacher and she was showing me a video. She wanted to show me that she knew what she was talking about. She knew what she was doing after I told her about this interview. So, for those of, you know, my wife, she is an awesome PE teacher.
She's amazing. And she was telling me at recess and she had had, there were probably 10 different games going on and all the kids were active in some way. The, the least active was people doing chalk drawings on the ground. But my son was one of them after his soccer game, I guess he played. So it's, it's just this great picture of activity.
As you said, the we're hardwired for activity. We'll get to that in a little bit, but one of the questions I have about that is okay in the. Administrators, aren't going to change tomorrow. We're not going to have all of a sudden widespread. [00:15:00] Every kid gets to be active at school in the morning. So we're talking to a bunch of parents who very likely, and we're talking to coaches as well, who very likely are having some of the athletes and we'll get to the athlete.
Non-athlete distinction here in a little bit. Okay. They're sitting here going well, my kids are active in the afternoons evenings. What do we, what's your advice to the parents now? I'm one of them too, who have kids that we're trying to rev up that brain, but we also are getting up and they have to get to school by eight and we're trying to get a breakfast and get them out the door.
And that's, you know, that's enough and enough activity for us. So there's just this reality of we know, okay, now that we know we're bound to what we know and we want to help our kids flourish. So we want to do it. What would be your advice on how to make this happen in the mornings? How much exercise does it actually take to do that?
Is it 10 pushups or is it a mile? What does it look like and how can we actually do that practically?
[00:15:58] Dr. O'Neill: Yeah, it really [00:16:00] doesn't take that much. So the one thing that we can do practically is get the kids to school 15 minutes before homeroom and get them running around. And if that takes some guidance on the, in the, in the case of a, of a teacher or, or, or a staff member, you know, that's, that's, that's money well spent because if you can read these kids up any, right, just get their heart rates up a little bit for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and that's going to do their job for the first few minutes.
The other thing that, that, that, that you're pointing out is that unfortunately, so many of the people listening to this show, Don't need to listen to this show. They know this already. They know that their kids need to be active. They're making sure their kids are active. As you alluded to before, it's that other 80%, those are the kids we've got to get, get involved because those kids are costing us money.
If for no other reason, if for no other reason, [00:17:00] forget the fact that there'll be happier and there'll be better friends for all kids. They're costing us money in medical costs. They're costing us money with diabetes and asthma and, and depression. And it's costing a lot of money. I can tell you that a medical doctor costs a lot money, a lot more money for 15 minutes of their time.
Then having a power professional or a teacher for 15 minutes at the beginning of the day, having the kids run around in the gym or, or, or in the school yard a bit. So it's just, it it's, it makes sense economically. It makes sense academically. It makes sense for a fun concept and we haven't used the words fun and play, but, but these kids know how to play. They know how to have fun. And so you just have to allow them to keep doing that. It doesn't take a lot in the case of a, of an adult. we've driven it out of them at, at, at the older. But, but you don't [00:18:00] need to tell a kindergarten or a first , go and play.
[00:18:03] Phil: that's right. No, absolutely. And let's talk about that now.
Let's talk about this idea of the physical identity and the fact that we are hardwired. I mean, as you said in your book, and I think I heard in maybe an interview it's you don't need to tell the two year old to run around. I mean, I remember with our fifth kid, we were like pushing him down and when he was trying to walk, cause we're like, Hey, we're not ready for that yet.
You know, come on, let's go. But you know, at nine months old he was up walking and, and he didn't stop and he still hasn't stopped. He's 10 years old now. And so we have to calm him down. Right? There's no issue with him being active, but there are some that are even more hardwired than others who are bouncing off the walls, as we say, and we tend to try and ironically in schools, it seems like those are the kids that are always the troublemakers that they're trying to slow down and say, Hey, you need to sit all the time.
You know, which I get there's that side too, but what is this. Physical identity. And why is it so important for us to understand the crisis that we have in our hands today relating to. [00:19:00]
[00:19:01] Dr. O'Neill: So we are born and all animals are born with, I coined a physical identity. And so you come out of the womb or you come out of the egg or whatever it might be.
And that's what I have an octopus on the cover of my book. They play bear Cubs, play puppies, play kittens, play humans, play. This is what they do. This is what they know how to do. And if we don't stifle that play, they're going to keep playing. And so, but what happens is we bring them into school at the age of four or five and, and then we make them sit down and we try to get them to, to get into some kind of order.
Now it gets a lot more complicated when we start talking. Well ADHD and these other issues. So we're not really talking about that, but if you looked at the numbers in our schools, there are schools that have 25, 30, 40% of kids diagnosed with [00:20:00] ADHD and that's insane. That's just not right. These kids are responding to something else.
They're responding to something very different. It's that's not in their hard wiring. That's because they're not getting enough activity at home. That means that's because something's happening at home. And then at school on some level, they're just not getting enough activity at school. And so you can't again, have a kid sit down and learn.
We're learning to read for that matter on some level, and last they burned out some of this energy and they will do that. And then things go better. Well, one of my favorite things was Caesar, the animal trainer at a TV show and he would draw a circle and cross the circle in half and you'd ride on one half of the circle exercise.
And then he crossed the other half of the circle and half these two, a discipline. And then the last quarter of the circle will be affection. It's the same with puppy dogs. It's the same with humans. It's the same with bear [00:21:00] cuffs. It's the same. That's how the world has to work. Half of our life has to be passed to be moving, has to be that activity.
And then all the other stuff is going to go much, much better again for the vast majority of the kids. And we just have to figure out ways to make that happen because remember the world has changed. And when a child goes home, they're not either doing chores on the farm for the most part or out in the woods playing or, or skiing or, or, or running around.
They're getting on these, these machines. And we know that those machines are affecting their brains. We have MRI evidence of that, that these kids are literally changing their brains because of this. And the other thing that we haven't touched on that, you know, again, we won't talk about a lot is the ultra processed foods that these kids are getting.
And that's a big part. So these kids, our kids today are really behind the eight ball because of [00:22:00] Silicon valley and because of big big agriculture. And we've got to help them in any way we can and getting them more PE is a big part. And sorry, the last thing I'll say about that is sadly. The parents are a lot of times, you know, both working and they're not at home to make sure the kids are outside and in some environments are just the saddest thing.
Being outside is not a safe environment. So, but, but there are boys and girls clubs. There are things that can happen even in the inner city and in the most rural places. But we have to be more imaginative with these things because, you know, because it's just that important. That's the key to kit, getting our kids.
[00:22:44] Phil: Yeah. And we talk a lot about on the show to the, the onset, two of the professionalized sports, really youth sports in, in our society, the, the pay to play, whatever you want to call it. But a lot of the parks space is now always used up. I mean, [00:23:00] for, for organized teams to find field spaces, a challenge, particularly here in California.
And so I want to talk a little bit about that idea, that idea of the organized play versus free play the idea of, of, you know, parental involvement versus just kids playing without parents and really the implications of that, how that has led to now this athlete non-athlete distinction, how it's led to some other things.
Other lessons were necessary. We're not necessarily learning because our kids just aren't playing freely anyway.
[00:23:32] Dr. O'Neill: Yeah, it's, it's a really complicated subject because it's not that parents, you know, my brother, you know, it was a great parent, but he wanted to be a bit, you know, a better parent than my father, I suppose.
And so, you know, he enrolled, you know, my nephew into soccer and, and to various sports and he really clamped onto soccer and became a very good soccer player. But the [00:24:00] only time he played soccer was when that whistle was blowing. And, you know, he was on so many soccer leagues. He was playing, you know, three games a week at times.
And he wound up, you know, you know, going to college to play soccer and such, but he never learned just to play. And it's not like, you know, my brother was being evil or when there was being a really good father and he had a really good mother. It's just that this is what happened to this generation.
the baby boomers kids got hooked into that organized play to the nth degree. The other thing that happened with organized play, it's been monetized. So you turn on ESPN at the end of August and what's on the little league world series cam, are you kidding me? Right. All of these people should be arrested for child abuse.
This is crazy. And, and, and, you know, the kid, I can't, I can't even go get it from, from a sports medicine, from a sports psychology, from an everything standpoint. This is big money. and it's, and [00:25:00] it's terrible because the kids aren't just playing and the adults are playing. And I remember hearing one of the coaches at the little league world series that he says, says that was the best time of my life.
And I'm. That is so sad. It's not about like, it's the best maybe the kids are. Right, right. But, you know, you're the manager, you're the coach. And, and, and so it really gets complicated. And this is where I know a lot of your listeners will be, arguing with me. And I love that. Because it is so complicated and there's so much nuance to it, but what I tell parents and trust me, A lot of them, don't like to hear this and they don't listen to me.
don't go to every one of your kids' games purposely do not go to some of their games. Even if you have the time to go, don't go. You know why? Because it's your kid's game. And we want to make sure they understand that I'm playing soccer. I'm playing baseball, I'm going skiing because it's fun. [00:26:00] And I'm with my friends and we're having a good time.
I'm not doing it for my parents and I'm not doing it for our college scholarship, but I'm not doing it because I'm going to be the next Kevin Durant. You know, I'm just doing it because it's a good time and play with my mates. And so it really gets, it gets complicated. But the other big thing about the organized.
Of course, it's just a minority of kids that are playing. And as we talk about 75% of stopped by the ages of 13 or 15 at the most, and that means 25% are, are doing the organized sports. By the time they get to junior and senior year in high school, and we're spending a fortune on those kids and those kids are doing great.
And those kids are many of your listeners kids. And I appreciate that. Except again, 75%, 80% of those other kids are home on video games and not being healthy and not going to achieve academic success much less happiness.
[00:26:58] Phil: And like you said, [00:27:00] even from a purely selfish motive, It's costing us money in healthcare.
It's causing us money in all kinds of stuff that is out there that, that we, you know, don't have time to get into all that side of it. But also from just a human perspective, we want, if you want to help others flourish and easy way to do that is to encourage o ur kids to, to play freely.
And, and I want you to get in a little bit more of that. Like you're not talking, you know, it has to be an organized free play. No, this is like literal go climb a tree. Right. You know, and I was, I was actually upset my wife. I said, how come no, one's climbing a tree. She goes, I wish they could, but they can't because it's against the rules to climb the trees and the, at the, at the recess, you know, but, but to the point that it has to be against the rules, our kids want to climb trees, but we're usually as parents, I don't know if you've read The Coddling of the American Mind.
But the idea of safetyism and the idea of we're not learning lessons of, of you know, conflict [00:28:00] resolution and, time management and other things that we had to as kids, when we just said, Hey, we're going to the park. Okay. Be home by dark. Right. I mean, most parents who are listening will know that conversation.
Cause you've had it hundreds of times as kids. I honestly can remember. I can, my ten-year-old is finally doing that of my kids and he's really the first one to do that naturally without us saying, Hey, go out and just play. And we have a park literally across the street from our house, but very rarely are there, just kids out there playing.
And so can you speak to that and just that idea of what is free play? What does it look, I hate to say that we have to teach this, but I think it's almost like, what did you do as a kid? But also what are those lessons, you know, you, do you agree with coddling of the American mind and that idea of safety, as in, can you speak to that a little bit and what that looks like from your perspective and what you think as a, as a, I'm going to remind everyone as an expert on these issues.
So what do we know.
[00:28:56] Dr. O'Neill: Yeah, I love that. And, and one of his, so we [00:29:00] live in New Hampshire and my wife was you know, a fifth grade teacher. And so the plows would come in after a snow storm. And where are the, where's the biggest mounds of snow in the parking lot. It's right. Parking, lots of shopping centers and parking lots of schools.
So interschool is this huge amount of snow and what did the kids want to do? They want to play on a big mountain of stars and what are they told not to do play on the big. Now it's saying it's crazy, but like you say, the monkey bars that used to be around the slides. So many of these things have been taken away.
And then we get into a really more, a complex issue with the legal aspects of it. And the fact that we have, you know, we're graduating 30,000 lawyers in every year and we have that and it. It is affecting everything. This, this coddling aspect of safety is an aspect. I will tell you, I am a sports medicine doctor, you know, in [00:30:00] my day job.
And I can tell you that the kids will titrate their level of Risk to their comfort level. I always say the reason I never had a major injury as a kid because I was not a very good athlete, you know, and all the good athletes. So when I went to my 10 year reunion, they all had scars from surgery.
That's right. Cause I was never, I wasn't fast enough to hurt myself, but, but the deal is, is that right? We've got, but kids will play on the monkey bars on the snow pile, on the whatever, but they're going to titrate their level of risk and is somebody going to get hurt? And we, I, the one I always remember was the week after Christmas at school vacation and a few of the kids got some football equipment.
And so we went up, we were going to play a proper tackle football game. And again, it was just a bunch of kids. I think it was like the first or second place somebody broke their [00:31:00] collarbone. It was like no more tackle football career. And, and, and after that we played touch and, and, but no parent ever said, Hey, you guys have no business playing tackle football.
That's not real equipment. Know you figure it out. And we have to stop this idea of kids, figure stuff out, and we want them to figure it out. And we want them to, you know, to get an arguments and we want them to, you know, to get dirty and we want them to cry sometimes. And exactly, we just want this to happen because that's what this conflict, resolution stuff is all about.
And I dare say, and this is really getting off on the age. We're not doing that today in America, even the adults have forgotten how to do that conflict resolution and screaming at each other and, and, and choosing sides and not listening to the other side. It's absolutely crazy, you know, and that's what kids do.
And that's what you learn and they'll learn it on their own because it's, it's inbred in them. This is why human beings are [00:32:00] human beings because we learn to cooperate with each other, right. We're not faster or stronger than a Mastodon, but we can be smarter than a Mastodon and we cooperate and that's what play teaches us.
And that's what hopefully sports teaches at us. And, and I know you know, you're a big proponent and, and, you know, obviously I couldn't agree more this idea of anytime you're out on the athletic field and there's a nasty language, or there's screaming at the referees or there's, you know, foul language or, or.
And negative talk is it's insane to me. And I'm thinking these are kids. What world are you doing? What do you care if he got fouled or he didn't get fouled. The kid doesn't care. Right? He'll get his orange slice at halftime. It's all good. It's just, it's remarkable. But that's why so much of it is adult driven.
So much of the bad stuff is adult driven.
[00:32:57] Phil: Well, the kids don't care until the adults care. [00:33:00] And that, that that's, and then they, they follow and they're modeling. I mean, the parents are modeling the behavior that the kids will follow because that's their model as it should be, but we need to be better models.
First of all, and we need to let our kids go to a center. I always go back to this conversation. I have five kids. And when I think I had four, a friend of mine had two and we were at the park and with the kids and they were playing. I honestly, to this day, I have no idea where my kids were at that point.
Cause I didn't even ask him after the fact, but he looks at me and he's like, you know, head on a swivel, looking all over for his kids. And he says, how do you do it with four kids? I'm just freaking out with my two. And I said, look, I just realized at some point I just got to trust that God's going to keep them alive because I envy well, I, well, you know, CPS, don't cold call CPS on me folks.
But the reason is we can't keep an eye on our kids all the time. As you said, we titrate our risk. That goes for whoever as much as we try to protect our kids, I'll never forget one of my good friends. He's got that thrill seeker gene or whatever you want to call it. And we were outside. And I was, you know, I, I don't like a lot of [00:34:00] risk.
I don't like getting hurt. I don't like breaking stuff. You know, in football, I didn't like getting hit, you know, I weird thing was I loved hitting and collisions playing keeper in soccer, but you put those football pads on me and I just didn't like it as much. Partly probably because the two guys I did hitting drills with, went to the NFL and they were huge.
And they hurt me when I, when I did hitting drills. But I realized that, you know, you go, my friend, we were skiing and he's literally jumping off cliffs. It was Jackson hole. Corbett's Culair. I'll never forget. And he says, I'm going to do this. It was about a 40 foot drop. Drops into all these moguls.
And I said, you're nuts. Sure enough. He drops in, he rolled down the whole hill cause he ate it immediately, but he loved doing that. He got right back up and did it again. Me and my friend are like, he is nuts. We're going around to the easier hill. Right? And that's the reality, you know, you have that big mound.
Some people are going to roll down it and just jump into it and not have any care in the world. Other kids are going to say, I'm going to tip toe and make sure this isn't going to give out on me. And that's just who they are. And they're going to find trouble if they're going to have trouble and they're not going to find trouble [00:35:00] if they don't want.
And I say trouble, I mean risk. But that's where they learn. And I think, you know, going back to that coddling of the American mind idea and this isn't your idea, it's not your book, but I think your book speaks to it as well. This idea of, you know, parents and coaches often when, when they are the ones leading the kids introduce in these ideas that then become what now, maybe it's cancel culture.
Right. Like where did cancel? It was never a thing that you just canceled. Somebody, you had a conversation and you figured it out. But when you go to the park with your mom or your dad all the time, and when there's conflict, you run to mom or dad and they basically say, well, don't play with that kid anymore.
What are they? Right, right. Versus when I was a kid we're at the park without mom and dad, my parents were incredible parents. They were always there for me when I needed them. But they also knew, you know, you're, you're fine. Going out on your own. I'd have a fight with a friend we'd punch each other. And that night we're hanging out in each other's house, doing whatever.
And I know [00:36:00] I'm not alone there. Cause everyone says, yeah, that me too. Of course. Right. So what are your thoughts on that? I mean, this isn't about me. I just, I I'm obviously passionate about this too. What do you think about all that?
[00:36:11] Dr. O'Neill: There is no person I talked to who's our age. And again, any young people listening?
I know you're rolling your eyes. But everybody says the same thing. when we were kids. We were out until it got dark. The only rule was show up until, you know, when it gets dark, you come home for dinner. The greatest, arguably the greatest New Hampshire athlete, Bodie Miller Bodie Miller was, you know, all day, every day out there playing soccer, tennis skiing out in his backyard was Canton and mountain.
And, and he became, you know what he is today, which is the greatest American a male skier. And so every person says that. And that's why I'm so [00:37:00] amazed that we don't do more. Every person says that, but then they say, but then it's well, yeah, when I was a kid, we stayed out. Oh, but, but that's not true.
Those buts are not usually true. That's perceived dangers, the kids going to get hurt. No, that's your perceived danger. The kid, you know, the neighborhood is not as friendly, that's perceived danger. And again, I don't want to minimize those neighborhoods and those areas that really are dangerous. Yeah.
But they're not as common. And, and, and, and in point of fact, it's safer in America today in most places than it was in the sixties. You know, when I was growing up, we did we did a little a study when, when they were doing all these kids on the milk cartons that were getting abducted. And we, we, we ran the numbers and we figured out that our son had to sit on the corner of our town in New Hampshire for 700,000 hours before he was going to be abducted. So [00:38:00] pretty small chance anything that's going to happen to him, but these, you know, but this, you know, this, you know, that one person in Topeka, Kansas does that happen too? Yeah, it's crazy. We can't let that be a lot of what's going on.
So I'm going to go out with my bike group tonight and we're going to be doing road rides and I get. People are on their cell phone. And a lot of the guys stopped riding road bikes just because of cell phones and they're nervous. And, and I get, that's a real danger, but my also my feeling is I'm not going to change my life now.
Right. Because of that. Cause I like to ride my bike. And it's something that I've been doing for years with these, with this group and I'm going to keep doing it as long as I can. And you know, hope that that person with that cell phone has noticed that I'm riding the bike. And I have my red flashing light and you know, we can do some stuff to make our kids a little bit safer.
But you've got to give that kid the chance to go out there and, and, and get into some trouble and [00:39:00] cause some mischief and, and get scared in the woods or in the city, or, you know, in the fields or whatever. It's okay. You know, they're, they're probably going to be fine and there, and they're going to be you know, educated, hopefully and learn something about themselves and about mother nature.
And I just, I am reading this great book where all their authors are talking about their experience with Henry Thoreau and Thoreau said something to the effect. He went up to Mount Katahdin, which is the biggest mountain in Maine at the end of the Appalachian trail.
A lot of your listeners know and Thoreau never made it to the top of the Mount Katahdin, but Thoreau who was this, you know, total nature guy, as we know. He went up to guitar and you said something to the effect that, listen, this is not safe for me. You know, Mount Todd is not looking out for me just because I'm Henry Thoreau.
And because I love mother [00:40:00] nature and I'm all about this. This is still, you know, a scary, potentially dangerous place, but it's also an incredibly beautiful place. And it's also a place that I am connected to. I am connected to mother nature. It doesn't always have to be safe and comfortable. And and, and that's a big part.
I want our kids. I think the reason I like ski racing is because it makes the kids uncomfortable. You know, they're cold half the time. It's fast. It's it's. And, and, and that I think is a good thing. And that's why, you know, I worry about golfers and soccer players. We want them to be on comfortable sometimes because that's the way the world is.
[00:40:42] Phil: Yeah. And I've sat on this show and I've said to so many people, most of the great things in life, come on, just the other side of comfortable. Right. And you know, we need to get out of that comfort zone and we talk about it, you know, I mean, when we're teaching our kids, they obviously we know that intuitively we know that it's not comfortable as sitting in a high chair [00:41:00] and getting fed right.
Comfortable is getting, you know, your diaper change. Because as we said, my three-year-old when he was three my oldest boy, he, he loved full service. Right. I mean, that was comfortable, but we also know that's not best for life. Right. We, we know these things intuitively and yet we want to protect, we want to protect, we want to protect.
And I think we saw during COVID too, a lot of fear-based thinking, as you said, you know, rather than, you know, well, we need to live. It was, well, we just need. Cocoon ourselves and be safe. I mean, that, that became the mantra for everyone is be safe. And, you know, I mean, that was the came, the goodbye. It was be safe.
And that is really contrary to a lot of what we're talking about here. It's, you know, it's not, you know, flight, you know, caution in the wind and I'm not saying COVID did not have a major, had a major effect on my life. My mom was, was, you know, passed away recently and it was largely due to that. So I get it on the other hand, we need to live.
We, if we're not living, we're dying [00:42:00] and if we're not able to go out and do these things, and if we're just basically cocooning our kids, they're not going to learn on these lessons that we need to. Now, I want to go a little bit more into the organized sport, because as you said, most of the listeners here are either coaches in organized sports parents and organized sports are playing organized sports themselves, or a huge proponents for organized sports.
Now I want to be clear, like you're not saying organized sports are inherently bad. And I want you to also go in and say, and you're also saying that just because you play organized sports does not mean you're having a physical identity, nor does it mean that you are, athletically, healthy.
so I want to maybe talk about the specialization and the, the impact of specialization on, on our children as well. I know it's a lot of things it's probably six hours, but can you just give like the nutshell version of that a really big topic? Cause I want people to understand what you're, what you're really saying about all that and they can go grab the book and I encourage them to do so everybody, the book is so good, [00:43:00] I'm on all these things, but can you just speak to that?
[00:43:02] Dr. O'Neill: Yeah, absolutely. I'm a big proponent of organized sports. I'm a sports medicine doctor. I'm a, I'm a sports psychologist. Yeah. Organized sports are great if they're done properly. And, and, and the reason why 75% of the kids are not playing. A certain percentage of those children are it's financial and, and, but, but, but a big percentage is because they weren't liking it because the coaching and the parents were not making it fun.
So the, the organized sports has to be fun, fun, fun, and guess what? I don't care who wins and I never care who wins except, you know, maybe when I'm at the professional level, you know, when I'm at the Olympic events and, and, and, and we're dealing with professional athletes, then you can root for that winner.
But, but you know what, eight. Who cares because they don't care who wins. It should all be about participation. Every kid should play goalie. Every [00:44:00] kid should play striker. Every kid should, should play, play, play. No, no kid should be on the bench. And in the, in the baseball, you know, well, he has to play at least two innings.
That's insane. That's no way to make a kid like a baseball or like any sport. So the kids have to play. And the number one thing they want to learn in this sport is, the sportsmanship. You're here to have fun. And when I hear about parents complaining that, well, this team has, you know, they're supposed to be you 14 and they got him.
I know these kids are older. Why do you care if you get beat? So what, so they, you know, unless we're talking about hockey or football or a contact sport where there's going to be injuries. I could care less what basketball team comes out on the court. Cause if we get beat, all right, we're going to learn something and maybe we'll, we'll figure things out and, and same with soccer.
So again, short of physical injury take on all comers and you're going to learn something you're going to [00:45:00] hopefully have fun, hopefully have a good experience and hopefully find out, you know, okay, well we need to work on this, that, and the other thing, and, and the, other big point with that is that just because a child is playing an organized sport does not make them physically fit.
So we really do have to make sure that they're loving being outside and playing again, not playing sports, but, but at least playing. Sorry, parents, but I'm going to give you more things to worry about, but if your child is not loving, the particular organized sport that they're in, you might want to look at something else or get them a mountain bike or, you know, get them into a swim club or a running crew, or, you know, but you got to do something.
So, so when, when people ask me, well, what my, my kid doesn't want to do anything. So, you know, well, sorry, Billy. And again, we're talking about people of means and, and people in a community where they have these options. I'm sorry, I gotta do something. So what do you want to [00:46:00] do here are your options. You know, you can do this amount of bargaining with the kids.
And and I my, my favorite story is I was sitting in the football's stands a number of years ago with two of my buddies. We were there. One of my friend's daughter was cheerleading. Now. He didn't want to start a, the cheerleader. He wanted her to be a soccer player, a field hockey player, but she wanted to be a cheerleader.
And that's what she was doing. And we were supporting that. The other guy that was sitting on the other side of us says, guess what I was doing this morning? He says, I went to a bowling match and their high school had a bowling team. This guy was a, semi-professional a quarterback, a football quarterback.
His kid had no interest in playing football, but he wanted a bowl and still being a good father. He went to that bowling match. So. Yes. If, if it's going to be organized sports that the kid is not playing on their own, well, let's find something that you do like to do. And [00:47:00] ideally would be a lifelong sport, like a tennis you know, like some kind of swimming, surfing these kinds of things, but there's so much out there.
And a lot of this stuff is subsidized on so many levels. It doesn't have to be expensive and there's so many community community support. And I know in my small community, I don't think there's any child out there. Who's not doing a sport because of finances because we have, you know, supports people like myself and tons of people in the community and the, and supermarkets and the businesses where we're all part of that.
And then we can take advantage of that, but, but it's so important. But the kids have to be outside playing on some level. The other point with with the organized sports is that. It can't be a job, you know, and, and, and we do want the kids to do different sports again. You have just greatest athlete, Bodie Miller won the superstars competition.
This was something that happened 20 years ago. It was a televised competition and he beat out [00:48:00] the boxers and the football players and the basketball players and everybody, cause he is a, is an athlete. Right. And one of the problems now that I hear from our ski schools and from a lot of
specialized schools is that the kids coming in, they're not athletes, the kids coming there are soccer players or basketball players or ski racers, and they don't have the coordination and the flexibility and the quickness and the other things. So you really do at the young age. And again, this is another thing that we hear again and again and again, from the professional athletes.
And they say, you know, I didn't start specializing until I was 13, 14, 15, 16 years old. I played everything even bike racers. I mean, they played everything and that's how you develop all every athletic skills. The other thing I like about doing the different sports is that you also hear different sport philosophies.
So there's a difference between a cross country coach and. Rugby coach and a [00:49:00] soccer coach. And, and so you're, and you're also meeting different kids from different backgrounds. So that cross training, I know you want your kid to be the next tiger woods, but it's probably not going to happen. You have a much better chance of your kid being the next Bodie Miller by doing a lot of different sports.
[00:49:19] Phil: Yeah. And that's what we talked about at the beginning, right. We're coaching to the 1%. So the, the fact that we're not encouraging in our clubs, in our organized sports, other sports, I think goes to back to the money conversation rather than what's actually best for the kids. Because if we look at that, we know, I mean, we just know intuitively again, I know in my high school back as a long time ago, as it was for you, I'm gonna make an assumption there.
But All of these division one scholarships went to three sport athletes. Like I can't remember a single person who got a full scholarship that was not a three sport, usually a four year Letterman or a woman. Right. And, and that's the reality. [00:50:00] I remember that clear as day, even if they weren't great at the other sports, they played them.
Like you said, the social aspect, if nothing else, because it wasn't this thing that you had to be insane at a sport to play it. You played it. Cause it was, it was fun. And I that's in mission Viejo, California, which was, you know, sports central and you know, place. And so there was this idea that you played.
I remember urban Meyer at his Ohio state, height. He had 93% of his players were three sport athletes. That's that's speaks volumes. Right. And yet, if we look at the amount of three sport athletes or two sport athletes anymore, it's. Exception to the rule almost
[00:50:39] Dr. O'Neill: at the high level sustained bruise.
16% is in the, in the survey I did from my book. 16% of kids are playing three sports. Wow. And that's, you know, that's all. Small percentage of kids that are playing sports right. By the time they get to junior and senior year of high school, only 16% are playing three sports and this myth. And again, we have so [00:51:00] much data.
It's just like the data we were talking about for physical activity and academics. We have tons of data on that. We have so much data showing that that kids that play one sport are, have a higher rate of injury, have a higher rate of burnout, have a higher rate of not having fun. We have all the data parents.
Why are you doing this again? You're trying to find that one Tiger Woods. But, you know, look what tiger woods. Hopefully he's a happy guy now, but he's had his struggles. And, and I think he would say, I suspect for his kids, I'd want them to have a more balanced life than I did as a kid. You know, he had a pretty rough life from everything we've read and seen.
And, and he managed to overcome so much of it, but, you know, that's, that's so rare and yeah, we want these kids to have fun. That's got to always be the main, the main word is, are you having fun? You know, what can we can do? What can we do to have more fun and to play [00:52:00] and just to enjoy things, because that's, what's really affecting all this depression and, and an anxiety that the kids
[00:52:07] Phil: are having.
Yeah. And by the time this airs, we will have about 80 episodes of this, of this show. And. You know, I can think back to at least 20, if not more guests and that wasn't even the topic that talk about the fact that if you don't love it, you will not play at the highest levels, you have to both be great. Well, three things.
It's pretty great. Love it. And work your butt off that. I mean, like if you don't do all of those things, you're not going to work your butt off. If you don't love it. And you're not going to be great. If you don't work your butt off and love it, it, because that's just the reality of it. And so if we're not, if we say, well, it doesn't have to be fun, then that's a pipe dream.
You're not, you're not going to have, there might be a tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of people that will keep doing it for some weird reason that will keep playing when they're not having fun, but that's going to be. Vast minority, vast, vast [00:53:00] minority. So, and you know, and that goes to one of the things you talked about is the athletic lottery winners, right?
And so I kind of liken it as the 0.001%. But if you really look at the actual percentages, I think of those, whatever, 16% or 25% of the people who are still playing in college or in high school as a senior year junior, it's about 7% that plays somewhere in college. And about one to 3%, depending on the sport and the gender get a scholarship of some kind of those people.
So I remember a conversation I had with a not, I didn't have a conversation with them. I was eavesdropping on a conversation with a couple of dads at seven year old girl tryouts for soccer. And they said, all I heard was, you know, and it was pouring rain, dumping rain at this point. And they said I hear this is the club that you need to be in.
If you want a scholarship at Stanford.
[00:53:55] Dr. O'Neill: Oh, yeah. You see, this is, this is exactly what I'm talking [00:54:00] about. These kinds of conversations and like, are you kidding me? Do you hear yourself? Do you hear what you're saying? First of all, take all the money that you save by not having all these travel teams and guess what?
There's a college education. So you don't need a scholarship. I guarantee you, you will saving up money for your state university to send you your child. They don't need that scallop. And this concept that get right. Well, if Janie doesn't do that that you four team team, right? Forget the CA that's just absolutely insane.
And Janie's going to hate that. It's, it's just it, the, the adults are driving so much of this. One of the things that I was horrified by when our, our, our, our kids were young, my, my nephew and, and our son. My nephew never became a good skier, even though he has an uncle who lives in New Hampshire, because there was always a [00:55:00] soccer tournament.
There was always something during those vacation times. And, and and our son was playing basketball. Tournament's over Thanksgiving and over Christmas. And it's like, and if you don't, you know, go to these, these camps for these tournaments or whatever, well, you know, you're not going to get playing time then and the rest.
And, and so what were they doing? They weren't spending time with family. They weren't doing another sport. They weren't going skiing or they weren't, you know, just going and visiting grandma in Ohio or whatever, but that's adults are doing that. It's not like the kids say. You know, Phil, we really need more Thanksgiving and Christmas tournament because you know, now maybe they don't want to visit the grandma.
Yeah. That's a whole different conversation. Sorry, grandma. But in point of fact, the kids don't, you know, it's just too much and the kids, the kids get tired. One of my, my, my one friend's daughter is his son was on the us ski [00:56:00] team. His, his daughter who was, you know, a few years, five years younger, she said, you know, she says, I just really hate getting up on Saturday and Sunday mornings to go skiing.
If she could have gotten up at 10 o'clock in the morning, Maybe she would have stayed with ski racing, which she just, because she's getting up five days a week already. And it's just, it's one of the other things I say when we're trying to motivate the kids or, or, or you know, find out what's going on with their lives, with this organized sports and with their scholarship to Stanford at the age of seven is to have that quiet sit down with, because it's amazing what these, you know, eight, nine year olds have already figured out and already dissected and just have that conversation with them and say, you know, when a quiet place say, Hey, you know, you know, your father and I, we think it's important for you to, to be active because we know that's healthy, blah, blah, blah.
Well, we see, you're not loving [00:57:00] ice hockey as much, you know, get my F my, a buddy of mine went through this with his daughter, with ice hockey. Is there something else that's just some way we can make it more fun or would you rather do another sport or whatever, you know, you notice you and stay, or do you want to just not
[00:57:14] Phil: right?
That's the, yeah, usually not. That's usually not
[00:57:16] Dr. O'Neill: done. That's not an option. And, and so, but, but have these conversations and, and, you know, are you putting pressure on yourself to, to win or blah, blah, blah. I mean, you, as you, I'm sure. You know, in, in, in the Scandinavian countries, they don't keep any. Scores or tallies of of most of their athletics until I think that at least 13 or 14, there's, you know who the best 11 year old cross country skier is in Norway today, we have, we don't have that information.
Nobody, you know, keeping a clock on these kids. It's not until they get older, that they start, you know, having those kinds of competitions. And as a result, all the kids are skiing and all the kids are having a ball. [00:58:00]
[00:58:00] Phil: Yeah. You know, and, and like you said, it's not just other sports. It's not just so they can go skiing.
It's also family events. I know my daughter, she says, dad, you know, I have soccer practice on Wednesday nights, but I want to go to youth group at church. And I said, well, talk to your coach. And, and I sit in, you know, you've been talking about wanting to go to any CNL team or other things like that. Cause she's really serious about soccer and she's 13.
And, and I said, you know, that's, that's an option. But if you go to those, then you're not going to be able to, you know, they won't let you won't play. If you go to church on Wednesday night and there's practice, but on this team you're on now, you may have that opportunity, but you need to talk with your coach and, and figure it out, you know?
And, and so that's, again, another life lesson. I'm not talking to her. I said, I'm not talking to them. You talk with them. If he says that's okay, but you're also a captain. So there's an impact there you need, you should talk to your teammates as well and say, are you guys okay with this? Which are all great life lessons, right.
And I said, I get that. You want to go? And I want you to go to youth group. That's awesome. And I love that you want to, and this is your [00:59:00] thing. And, and she says, so she did, she talked with her coach and he said, that's fine. As long as you're at the other practices, it was an agreement. Everyone was okay with it.
And now she's fine. But again, if you're at that high, high, high elite quote, unquote level, They're going to say, I mean, I can't imagine a team that I know of any way they'd be like, yeah, that's cool. Just don't come to practice and you're still fine. You know, that's just not. Yeah, well maybe. Yeah. That's true.
That's true. All right. All right. So we always have exceptions to the rules, but the, but the point being, I think people forget too, that it's not just because most of the time the kids won't speak up like that. You know, fortunately we have in our home have encouraged that and have these open conversations with our children.
But a lot of times they're not, and those options aren't there a lot of times too. And, and like you said, a lot of these are suburbia problems and suburbia issues and our certain demographics aren't even having this conversation because there's not the option to do these things. They don't even have organized [01:00:00] elite level sports.
And that's a whole, unfortunately we can't cover all these conversations. We're already skipping over a ton of stuff in this conversation. I do want to say though, that we are aware that obviously what I do with orphan and vulnerable children around the world, I'm very sensitive to that subject, but I also think it's why going back to, and I want, I do want to bring it kind of back to the conversation of saying, you know, you even say in that athletically raw athletic lottery winners, a section of your book, the idea that, you know, sports organized sports do not further the child's academic.
Or physical identity on the same level as aggressive PE classes. So speak to that. After saying that you're not against organized sports, you actually see the value of organized sports. There actually is great stuff there, but why would you say that that you know, sports don't further the child's academic achievement on the same level as aggressive PE classes and I'd venture to say physical identity too, based on what I've read in your book.[01:01:00]
[01:01:00] Dr. O'Neill: And that's exactly right. I, I, I'm not against sports if they're done properly. And and, but the, the myth of organized sports, the myth that the kids are learning sportsmanship. And you've talked about this on your podcast before. Yes. With a good coach and a good parents, they should be learning sportsmanship.
It's sadly, they're not. And, and, and we see this sadly. And every week, you know, on, on TV, we see a sign of, of bad sportsmanship and and so organized sports is not, these kids are not doing better academically. The, the quote athletes don't quote in schools are not the academic achievement award winners.
For the most part, it's just this myth. And again, that doesn't make sports bad. That's just saying that sports organized sports is not the be all and end all of everything in our lives. It's great fun. It's great entertainment. It can be great for fitness, but you can't make it do things that it's not designed to do.[01:02:00]
It's designed for, for other things. And especially when the point when most organized sports are played after school, if we played organized sports, maybe before school, then it could stimulate our brains. And then we could talk about it being part of academic achievement. But, but it just doesn't. The reason we need physical education to be for every child every day, every year of school is because it stimulates the brain.
And because for 180 days a year for at least 45 minutes, 30 to 45 minutes, we know our children's heart rates going up. We know our children are loading their bones, they're loading their muscles. They're running around. They're having fun. We know that we can maintain. Ideally their physical identity. Then if you add to that, some parental involvement on the weekends and in the summer.
Now we have healthy kids that are graduating from high school at the age of 18. Now add to that organized sports, [01:03:00] which I hope most kids are playing on some level or at least some sports. And now we have a healthy population. We have a population that can fight COVID when it shows up the next time. We have a population that can fight anxiety and depression.
We don't have to have a 25, 30% of our kids with diabetes. And pre-diabetes, this is shameful as a society that we're doing this because it doesn't have to be in America or. Most countries over the world. And I've given talks to in various countries. Now it's a worldwide problem with our children and we have to get them away from the screens.
We have to let them be addicted to mother nature, which is in their physical identity. It's in our primitive brains that addiction to mother nature, that biophilia as, as they say, and, and we just have to let that happen. But the systemic change that we can make is making sure for 180 days a year of [01:04:00] school, that the kids are getting their heart rates up for 30 to 45 minutes.
That's going to make the biggest change in our society that anything else you could possibly imagine For
[01:04:11] Phil: their health. Yeah. And I think when you talk about that with the screens, the reason why you keep coming back to that is there are many studies that talk about the fact that the more screen time you have, the more mental health issues we have.
Can you speak to that?
[01:04:27] Dr. O'Neill: Yeah. It's not even close again. We have the data for all of this stuff, right? We have the data for getting your heart rate up for X minutes a day. We have the data for academic achievement associated with fitness. We have the data. Four kids having more fun that are getting outside and fresh air.
We have the data for all these things. We have the data for the more time you spend on a screen, the more time you spend on the phone or on Facebook or on call of duty, the less happy you are. And that's a really [01:05:00] important word, you know, again, if we had to, to, to talk about the, our big word, state fun play and happiness, you know, and we don't talk about that enough for sure in America, but in a lot of countries that, that that's a big deal.
I want my kid, you know, at the end of the day, again, if you ask parents, what, what, what do you want most from your kids? It's not for them to be, you know, an engineer or, or, you know, invent the next new website is for them to be happy and, and. This is part of happiness, being part of nature, being fit, having some some excitement about going outside and playing.
That's all part of happiness. And, and we know that these screens are the new cigarette when you and I were kids cigarettes. That was the big deal. But remember, we get sick from cigarettes Mo my first patient today was 71 years old with an oxygen tank. And from emphysema, he doesn't smoke [01:06:00] anymore, but he smoked plenty.
Yeah. And but, but, but he didn't get that oxygen tank until four years ago. Right. But these kids are sick now. These kids that are addicted to two dimensional entertainment are sick now. They have high blood pressure and depression now. That's why they have a shorter life span than our generation. How crazy is that?
That we're talking about a shorter life span of kids in the 21st century with all these great medicines, with all the knowledge that we have with all the advancement that we have, but these are, this is the new a cigarette. And we finally recognized it with cigarettes, but again, the money out there and the advertising, the billions of dollars that they spend advertising to kids, not only the bad entertainment, but the bad food, and it's a tough fight, but if we can do this with physical education, that's something parents in mission, Viejo and parents in Plymouth, New Hampshire and [01:07:00] parents in, in Topeka, Kansas, we actually can go to our school board and say, Hey, I read this guy's book and this guy O'Neill wrote this book.
There's tons of other data showing the same thing. Our kids need more activity. And that activity in school is called physical education. We want that. And, and then you're gonna take off the handcuffs off the PE teachers off the classroom, teachers off the administrators, off the principals. Now we can start adjusting our school day to the 21st century to 2022.
And now we're going to start seeing some help and no child left behind didn't improve our math and English scores in 2002. But if we get more PE, that's going to make the difference.
[01:07:52] Phil: Yeah. I love it. I love it. There's so many things that come to my mind. I know we're, we're kind of running out of time here, but one of the things that it reminded me of is this idea of Keystone [01:08:00] habits in the power of habit by Charles Duhigg, where he talks about there's some things that we do that lead to all these other great habits. And that really is what I'm thinking about with this PE it creates and reinforces not creates it reinforces and cultivates the physical identity that they will take into everything else that they do. So the default is not, oh, I'm going to go on my screen because I even see my soccer players who have played soccer their whole life, as soon as practice is over, what do they do?
They check their phone, right? Even at phone, they're pulling it out and doing something and putting it on Instagram because they saw someone doing something or they're taking a selfie so they can post it somewhere. And, and I look at it and go that. Fault now that has been created, but how do we get back to the default being?
No, I go outside now. I know to a certain extent, I have a 20 year old and I have a ten-year-old. And even between those two, as you said, the iPhone has been here ever since my ten-year-old was born, it was not here when my 20 year old was born. And to see the difference of my oldest, who had Leealive in our backyard, [01:09:00] which was what is her imaginary village that she had and played with my son.
And we still bring up Leealive with her all the time. My ten-year-olds default was watching some sort of screen and sneaking screen time, you know, and we're trying, but it's, it's a hard beast to, to, to buck, right? If you, I mean, we're and you can't escape it, right. Cause if you, it's not the S the TV, which you hide the remotes, it's the iPad or it's the phone, or, and they're going to figure out a way to it's like we snuck cigarettes or what I'd never did, but some people snuck cigarettes as kids behind the school. Now they're sneaking the phone and playing with it in their room. And so I look at that and, and I, and then I look at the fact of what are they doing on the phones too? You know, I know my one son watched YouTube videos of Steph Curry when he was learning to shoot a three-pointer okay, that's a coach, right?
Like he went out, he did it. And then he went outside for three hours and shot and tried to get like, it that's different than what most people are doing, which is comparing themselves to others. Right. And you talk about happiness. Talk about joy, a great quote that I've quoted. I [01:10:00] know many times here as well, comparison is the thief of joy and most of the.
Kids are looking at other people, doing things that they wish they were doing, looking like they wish they were looking like, which leads to depression, leads to anxiety, leads to suicide, leads to all these things that we're seeing at much, much higher rates. Particularly when you add in the fact that there's so much fatherlessness, so many people in homes without parents that are really being able to be active in their home and in their kids' lives as much as they want to be.
And so you have all of these things that are at play. When you know, you look at that Keystone habit. If these kids default is to go to the park is to play outside, is to stay off of their screens. Man, think of that, you know, and we don't have to dream of that world. We can remember our world, right. What it was like.
And we see, I remember a talk at a, at a conference a long time ago. It was, it was about technology. It was, I forget the guy's name. He's he writes a writer for wired wired magazine. I think he's the editor of wired magazine. And he was talking about [01:11:00] technology and he said, look, we know there's bad technology, but just because there's bad technology doesn't mean we get rid of technology.
It means we make it. And how can we make it better? And that's what I want to say to us is look, the answer is not to get rid of I-phones that ship has sailed. I phones are here. Technology is here and it's not a bad thing inherently. It just has a lot of bad in it that we need to protect our kids from.
And that's our job as adults is to protect our kids over the problem is we don't know how to use it yet either.
[01:11:31] Dr. O'Neill: Right? Yup. And absolutely. And that's exactly right. We can't put this back in the box, it's out. And so we have to fight it with a positive. We cannot fight it with a negative. This is not a, just say, no, this is not grab every, and as you say, monitor your kid 24 7, making sure they're not doing it.
That's not going to work. As you say it's ubiquitous. And so we have to make sure our kids get addicted to [01:12:00] mother nature, but the good news is, is that they're already addicted. They come out ready to be addicted already addicted. No two year old wants to be on a, on a phone when they can be crawling around eating dirt and you know, grabbing stuff.
And so we have to use that. We can't let kids leave and lose their physical identity. And as long as we do that, we're going to be fine. And we're going to fight this with a negative cause modern all these video games. And so many of these things they're trying to recreate mother nature while we have mother nature, you know, no matter where you live, even in a city there's there's mother nature.
So, so as long as we don't let the kids lose their physical identity, The other thing I would say for the parents out there who are really struggling and maybe single parents and, and financially strap get help from the community. Most communities really do have help. And, and there are, you know, the professional teams in the [01:13:00] cities and, and there's so much out there.
I was just on the phone with a friend from, from Los Angeles actually. And they were starting a program on the weekends and the Los Angeles police department was part of it. And, and it was a really a big community effort that was starting. So it's out there and, and a couple of phone calls that God helped me out, a couple of clicks, and you can find some help for for your kids.
But, but, but again, we want them addicted to mother nature. If we fight Silicon valley and we fight Ronald McDonald with a positive, we're going to have a much, much better chance of winning rather than trying to try and to say no,
[01:13:41] Phil: absolutely. Now I love that. And I, I do want to echo that and just say, look like, you know, and that's going back to the good of the internet.
That's the good of the, there is a good right. There is a good, there's a great organized sports. And there's also the shadow side. Everything has its shadow, but how do we maximize the good, how do we make [01:14:00] this better on that note? How would you encourage coaches who are listening? What in your mind is a, is a, a great coach.
Cause I know you have a. Subtitle of one or subsection is importance of good coaching. But what would you say to, to encourage coaches and say, as a coach, what are the things that if you, they didn't do by the end of their coaching, you'd say, you know, that's a marker that wouldn't necessarily be labeled good coach in your book.
Now, obviously this is your opinion on this, but I want to encourage this because I do have a, a program coming out called coaching the bigger game and that you know, I'd love for you to be part of that in some way, we can talk about that at a different time. But what does that look like as far as good coaching?
When you say that that's obviously a loaded term, but what, what are the markers.
[01:14:40] Dr. O'Neill: I mean a great youth coach doesn't care about the score. A great youth coach wants to see that child get better that season. And I think if that's their goal that, you know, for the kid to have fun, but also for the kid to make some progress.
And, and one of the great things with, with soccer that [01:15:00] you see is, you know, the first year they play soccer there, just this, this massive humanity following the ball around. And then the next year you see somebody make a pass and then you see the next year two passes or, and you S you see that, that progression.
And that's what a coach should be wanting to see. All we want to see is I don't care who wins the game, who's doing what I want to see all of my players. And I mean, all of my players, there's not this idea that, you know, I have three good athletes on my team. These are the kids. There nothing yet. They're not athletes.
They're not, non-athletes, they're not mathematicians. They're not writers, they're kids. And we want them out there having fun. And at the end of the day, if they all have a smile on their face or some dirt on their uniforms, it's probably been a good day, but I want to see them having fun, being good sportsman and showing progress in that physical skill.
So that child that, you [01:16:00] know, doesn't get it hit all year and then just gets a good foul ball. Well, that's a, that's a job, well done, coach, and you got to take pride in that. And the score is so meaningless.
[01:16:11] Phil: Yeah. You know, and I, and I think the one thing we didn't get into in detail, and I just want to real quickly say it, and you can correct me if I'm wrong on this.
But this distinction athlete non-athlete really is something we've created in the last few decades or a couple decades. It used to, you know, it's really this idea of physical identity. It goes to that, that we've talked a lot about today. And the problem we have today is that if you stop playing sports, it's we have these two categories, athlete and non-athlete.
And when you're a non-athlete, you tend to default back to what we talked about screens. And so we made that assumption that we forgot, we didn't define it as we were getting into our conversation. So I just want to help everyone understand that that's laid out very, in a lot of detail in the book, but did I get that right enough for the, for the audience?
[01:16:55] Dr. O'Neill: Okay. Absolutely. Absolutely. You've got it. You've got to make [01:17:00]sure the kids are not. Identifying with that, because again, the kids are not going to just go home and ride their bikes. Th th the kids that are not good at hitting them in baseball or hitting a soccer ball or, or, or hitting a field hockey of ball, the kids are going to go onto that web onto the computer.
And that's the worst place they can be. So you really got gotta, it's even more important in 2022 to make sure every kid is playing the same amount of time or plenty of time on the field that they're playing different positions, that they're just having fun and they're being involved. And because again, we don't want them identifying.
I'm just no good at it. Just like when I hear a kid saying, oh, I'm not good at reading, or I'm not good at math. And it breaks my heart. When I hear a 10 or a 12 year old saying that you're here, don't know what you're talking. Right, right. Not good at math, you know? And, and, and also the other thing that [01:18:00] I'll say that, that I think your listeners when we talk about the good parts of the computer, the good part of the computer is if we give our children the scaffolding for math and for science and for English and social studies in school, they can go on that computer and then they can explode in those subjects.
They can't do that with physical education, physical education, getting their heart rate up for 45 minutes a day. That's what a good PE teacher is going to do and have fun and keep them fit. That's what our schools believe it or not have to do more than teach the subjects because almost every kid, you know, when, when we went home, if we had.
We got, I think it was funk. And Wagnalls encyclopedia that you bought one a week at the gas station one summer or whatever, or one year for 52 weeks. And, and I remember this and my, my parents [01:19:00] did this. And so now we had this encyclopedia, this, you know, this and every kid has not an encyclopedia at home.
They have a library, they have the library of Alexandria at home. So believe it or not, the job at the school is more physical than mental. The job of the school is more emotional than mental because the mental stuff, if that kid is going to be a math whiz, give them a scaffolding and then they can take it to the next level on their computer, but we've got, but what they don't get at home is the emotional and the physical, and that's what school that's, that's the most important thing in schools.
And that's why the curriculum has to be really completely changed to
[01:19:46] Phil: reflect. Oh, wow. Yeah. I had a conversation on my think orphan podcast with Jeff Sandefer who started the Acton Academy, which is a disruptive education system. Now it's all over the world. And, and he talked about that. He goes to the job of the [01:20:00] educator nowadays is not teaching to know it's teaching to be in teaching to do.
And, and that goes to exactly what you're saying and, you know, he didn't necessary. Specify and, and focus on physical education, but they're very active in that school. They're very, they're moving around constantly. They're doing stuff every day. They are active and, and it's something that I know that he'd be right in tune with you.
And, and it actually be good to connect you guys. So, but great. And I'll, I'll link to those episodes too. There's a couple of them. I did a two-part episode with him as well, but yeah, so I, man, as, as you can imagine, we could talk for hours and hours, but I do want to just plug, we don't have time to get into it, but can you just very briefly you have a book, your other books called knee surgery.
I mentioned it at the beginning. I shudder to even say it in a, in a soccer podcast because there are so many of those are associated with it, but because of that, I want to point it out for people. Can you just quickly tell them what that book's about? And I'm assuming they can find it on Amazon and [01:21:00] wherever else you get
[01:21:00] Dr. O'Neill: books.
Absolutely real fast. It's called knee surgery with the subtitle, but really it's about rehabilitating from knee surgery. So if you've had a significant injuries, certainly anterior cruciate ligament and ACL tear or any major knee injury, and for sure for grandma and grandpa, they've had knee replacements get this book, it takes you through the entire program soup to nuts, a little sports psychology is thrown in there.
But from changing the dressing to to getting the exercise, to getting ready for surgery and then after surgery. And and it's a great book and I've, I've said this to everybody. If you buy the book and it didn't give you any good information, give me a call. I'll send you your money back. But but it really is.
It's just an easy thing. And, and, and it just makes your life so much easier when you go through quick. Cause these are big deals. And as I've been talking during the Olympics, I was doing a number of interviews and such. These are Olympic athletes. These [01:22:00] kids are not robots. They are made out of flesh and blood.
And so when we have an injury, we have to take care of it properly, and this book will
[01:22:07] Phil: help you do that. Yeah, absolutely. I will. I will not ask for your phone number on this interview right now, because I don't want to hate calls about all the, you know, organized sport, people getting mad at you. So, but I know you can't obviously.
But no, and that's why I love having these conversations because they're important conversations and we do have to be thinking about these issues. We can't just have echo chambers and we need to, you know, it's good to disagree. As we've talked about, we, we used to disagree all the time and know how to handle it.
And I feel like now people are like, I don't like it, shut it off, turn it off. I just ignore it and cancel you. And I don't like that. So, you know, it'd be remiss to not ask you this question on how soccer explains his leadership, but what lessons that you've learned directly from, from your playing sports, whether it's organized, whether it's just PE or play, you know, when, when you were younger did you use, and have you applied in your your marriage, your parenting?
[01:22:55] Dr. O'Neill: Yeah, I think that's, it's a great question. I dedicated my, my new [01:23:00]book to my father and I think my father you know, he was just a great influence in that. He didn't worry about the score. He worried about his being safe and having fun. And and as a result, he was the loot. I think I called him the, losingest coach in the league history.
But, but every kid wanted to play and everybody had fun with them. And, and I think that that's, that to me is what this is all about. You know, we, we play and, and, and we have a good time and, and, and we get dirty and then we have an ice cream or an orange slice, and God, that's what it's all about. One of the things I love about your.
That's the soccer and, and the reason soccer is worldwide is because what do you need for soccer? Need a ball, and you can make a ball out of anything. And I played football in high school, not very well at 155 pounds. And then I played soccer in college and I said, oh man, this is about what I should have been doing this to.
So [01:24:00] fun. You get out on a, on an autumn day and you kick a ball around. You know, what's better and what's better than that. And and that's what, you know, sports and activity you get outside, you go for a walk in the park, you go for a swim, you know, what's better than that. It's just, it's just so wonderful.
[01:24:18] Phil: So, absolutely. So I think what I hear in there, what I hear in there is, you know, it perspective, right? To be able to bring perspective to, to marriage parenting, to be able to bring perspective to life, you know, and to know that it's. You know, and that's what I say to a lot of people is you'll forget this game.
You'll forget that play. Remember when some of our girls missed penalty kicks in a big game, I said, did you wake up the next morning? And they're like, yeah. Why? And I said, because life goes on it's okay. And the next time, step up and take it again because that's life. And that's what you can do. You know?
And, and it also earlier may reminded me of something else when you were talking about that perspective and, and what [01:25:00] really is important, how do we teach our kids, these lessons that they can only learn going through some of these things by themselves. Right? And it's, it's very organized. Sports is a very safe environment to learn a lot of life lessons, which is why we do this show is to remind people.
But my son had a rough pitching inning and my, and he, and he, you know, he got, he got shelled and, and, you know, he struggled and they, and he struck two guys out and they dropped the ball and the guys got to first base safely, and he basically had eight outs and two innings, and he was frustrated and he was kind of tearing up a little bit and, and my wife goes around.
I go, just let him, let him work. Let them worry, but maybe let his teammates encourage him maybe, but, but don't, you know, and he's like, but he likes it. I go, of course he likes it. He loves his mommy coming and helping him. But, but this is a great, a great learning experience for him, you know? And she was a D one athlete.
She gets it, but she's also a mama bear. So, but I think that that's, those were things that his perspective it's to say, okay, what, how big is this one inning in a life? It's not a big deal. You know, what if it gets shelled for 25 runs and not even in a week, in [01:26:00] two minutes after the game, he's gonna be like, all right, what do I have tomorrow?
I got to soccer practice, or I got whatever practice, you know? So I love that perspective that these sports bring to us to be able to have that bigger picture.
[01:26:11] Dr. O'Neill: Absolutely. And parents don't worry. Your kids are going to learn how to win on their own. They don't need to be taught how to win this idea that well, if the coach plays everybody and they don't, then they're not going to lose.
No, that's not. That's not how it works. So stop that they will learn how to win. Michael Jordan was going to figure it out. Trust me on this one. And the other thing I learned from my father is you always respect your opponents. And again, because your opponents are going to be your teammates next year or, or someday, and But, yeah, it's, it's this it's it.
We don't have to overthink the room here. Uh it's it's it's about fun and it's about a play and, and hopefully that's, that's where we can go with
[01:26:56] Phil: this. Absolutely. All right. Last question. What [01:27:00] have you read, watched or listened to other than your books that you spend hours and hours writing and reading over?
I'm sure. That has impacted your thinking on these issues that we talked about today, really PE play sport and how, how they do explain and help teach us about life and leadership.
[01:27:15] Dr. O'Neill: Boy, that's a tough one. I mean, I started reading everything in my elementary school library that I could get my hands on and the books that I gravitated to were kind of the boy on his own kind of books and for whatever reason I loved all that stuff and, you know, tornado Jones triggered John's son two with the ones I can remember and that, and I thought I wanted to move to Wyoming and live in the middle of nowhere.
And but that, that kind of self-sufficiency idea. And then, you know, a boy Scouts kind of helped with that. You know, as you say, getting shelled for 25 runs probably helped with that. This most recent, literally now on my[01:28:00] bed stand is this Thoreau book. And and for sure, you know, as I was you know, in, in college and, and all that time, I was just reading all kinds of things.
I think for the kids reading good biographies of Jackie Robinson and Wilma Rudolph and all these other fantastic athletes, but even, you know, I'm bawling your name. I need the woman who crashed her plane, Amelia Earhart, Amelia Earhart, you know, these kinds of, you know, incredible people that these individuals are is, is always inspiring.
And, and, you know, you can read different levels of their farm, Ernest Shackleton, you know, in the Antarctic and such. And so I've always been drawn into, I think those kinds of people and their stories. And and I think that's, that's definitely influenced influenced me a
[01:28:49] Phil: lot from. No, I love that.
And as you were talking about that, you were talking about the children's books and I was thinking based on what we talked about Taya today, I imagine Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer are some, some [01:29:00] good role models we could, we could have for our kids, not necessarily in some of the, some of the racial overtones and things like that, but that was a different time, a different age, but just kids being kids and go and adventure and have it writers,
[01:29:15] Dr. O'Neill: you know, Nancy drew in the Hardy boys and on and on yet,
[01:29:19] Phil: I just had the Hardy boys on my.
Uh, That's when he he's one of those kids, as you said, I thought of him when you said, you know, I don't, I'm not good reading. I'm not a good reader. I don't like reading. I said, no, you just haven't found the right books. And so he had the Hardy boys up on his thing. I said, remember, your sister loved Nancy drew.
These are the boys, Nancy drew. Yeah. Let's go for it. You know? And he looks at the back, he goes, this seems interesting. I go, there are great books. Start to see what you see if you like it. So, but yeah. It's and that's just it. How can we find what they love? All right. Thanks again for being a part of this.
I mean, obviously we went longer than the normal interview, but I'm glad we did because there's so much good stuff in it. And I just appreciate you taking the time to be here. Thank you for putting all that blood, sweat, and tears [01:30:00] into the book. And just so much research, not a great thing about it.
There's so much behind it. It's not just your musings on these things. It's, it's lots and lots of research and back and support and just some great things that you know, will make you think at the very least. So I encourage you to check it out survival of the fit and thank you, Dr. O'Neill.
[01:30:20] Dr. O'Neill: Thank you so much, Phil. That was, it was my pleasure anytime.
[01:30:23] Phil: All right. Well, good. Well, I may take you up on that and we may get you back on at some point. All right, folks. Well, thank you again for being a part of this. Thank you for just engaging the conversation. I do hope that you take all that you learn today and you actually apply it.
Go, go to a school board meeting, talk to some of those administrators, talk to the people who have influence to be able to change some of these things and get our kids moving and working out in the mornings. You know, again, just 10, 15 minutes, or maybe you go on a run with your kid in the morning, something, you know, let's get these kids move and get their brains revving up.
And also if you're interested warriorway soccer.com, you can find out more about Paul and Marci Jobson and what they're doing. [01:31:00] They're coachingthebiggergame.com. If you want to find out Christian Devries and I are doing thank you for all that you're doing and hope you take everything that you're learning here, and you use it to help you to be a better parent to help you be a better spouse, be a better friend, and that you'll continue to remind yourself as soccer does explain life and leadership. Thanks a lot. Have a great week.