The following appeared in a letter to the editor of the Parkville Daily newspaper.

"Throughout the country last year, as more and more children below the age of nine participated in youth-league sports, over 40,000 of these young players suffered injuries. When interviewed for a recent study, youth-league soccer players in several major cities also reported psychological pressure exerted by coaches and parents to win games. Furthermore, education experts say that long practice sessions for these sports take away time that could be used for academic activities. Since the disadvantages outweigh any advantages, we in Parkville should discontinue organized athletic competition for children under nine."

Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.

In this letter, the author suggests that Parkville should stop all athletic competitions for children under nine years old. The primary reasons cited to bolster the author’s recommendation are that these sports may cause harm or pressure to the young players and will affect their academic performance negatively by spending times to practice instead of study. However, the lines of reasoning of such a recommendation are unconvincing due to several unsubstantiated assumptions which, if prove wrong, will seriously challenge the author’s conclusion.

To begin with, whether the author’s recommendation is valuable highly depends on the severity of young players’ injuries. The author implicitly assumes that such injuries are serious enough to put an end to all kinds of athletic activities for the young. However, this assumption receives no corroboration and is potentially problematic from at least two perspectives. First, not all sports could cause physical harm. Intellectual games, such as Chess and Go, do not require any physical contact in spite of being competitive. In this case, it is not justifiable to blame these mind sports for causing physical harm. Second, in sport programs that can indeed lead to physical harms, we do not have any clues of whether the injuries were severe or minor. Perhaps, most of the four million injured young players only had small cuts or mild bruises. In those cases, the suggestion to stop all athletic activities may be unwarranted.

Secondly, when discussing parents and coaches exerts psychological pressures on young soccer players, the author apparently assumes that it could imply participants of all other types of sports. Yet, this assumption may be untenable due to differences among the competitive sports. For example, it could be the case that the psychological pressures associated with soccer players are unique because this area has a very strong soccer culture and puts a lot of effort to win soccer games. In this scenario, one can no longer assume that psychological pressures are prevalent among all sport participants in Parkville. Thus, the author’s suggestion based on such an assumption could be seriously challenged.

Finally, while the author lists several negative effects of young-league sports, the benefits are assumed to be eclipsed by the negatives. Nevertheless, it is unreasonable to simply assume so without any inquiry into the benefits brought about by sports. For example, youth-league sports are beneficial for players to maintain a good health condition, to increase their efficiency in studying, to build friendships, to learn the importance of teamwork, and more. Even though youth-league sports may have some potential negative effects, as long as the benefits largely overshadow the negatives, the author’s recommendation may not be advisable.

To summarize, since the questionable assumptions discussed above may deprive the suggestion’s strength, it is hasty to agree right away with the suggestion of cutting off all young-league sports before a more detailed investigation is implemented. Of course, the answer could turn out to be Parkville should indeed take such a recommendation, but that is only when the validity of the author’s assumptions could be proven by presenting more lines of evidence.

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