If you want your child to grow up to be an Olympic long-jumper, you’d better not let them watch too much of the Olympics on TV, according to a recent study. The CBC is reporting that “Each weekly hour of TV at 29 months of age corresponded to a decrease of about a third of a centimetre in the distance a child was able to jump” as per the University of Montreal’s findings.
Although the long jump isn’t the sexiest sport at the Games, Baby Boomers may remember Bob Beamon’s lengthy leap of 8.90 m at the 1968 Games, a then-World Record that stood for 23 years. (For the record, I once jumped 4.50 metres, or a “half-Beamon” in junior high…) Mind you, Canada has not won a medal in long jump since 1908(!) so it seems strange that the UdeM would be testing fourth graders in that discipline, though the CBC notes that a standing long jump is a good indicator of “explosive leg strength” for other Olympic events such as basketball, sprinting and soccer.
Of course, it’s not the x-rays from the TV that are tragically shaving centimetres off our young leapers’ results, but the lack of movement that occurs when you plop ‘em down in front of the tube. As per the study, “Watching more TV displaces more educational and physically active pursuits and risks teaching children inaccurate information about proper eating.” I suppose that if you let your kid practice his standing long jump while watching the Olympic event, he might still be okay—though you might need to replace your couch/landing pad by the end of the Games.
In any case, with a significant number of Canadian youth expanding their waistlines in front of the boob tube, it looks like Edrick Floreal’s National Record of 8.20 m should be safe for years to come.