Sports are a huge part of our culture. Super Bowl Sunday is practically a national holiday, and there’s nothing more exciting than a stadium full of passionate fans cheering for their team. By looking at any professional athlete, it’s clear what the physical benefits are. But playing a sport can get you more than a fit body. Here are some universal, life-long advantages of being on a team, and why we should continue to support this custom.
Two words: effective communication. People come together from all walks of life, combining various ideals and experiences to unite for the big win. There are contrasting personalities, various physical and mental capabilities, and different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Kids placed in this diverse environment will have an immediate advantage when entering the real world.
After most sporting events, it's tradition for opposing teams to shake hands. Despite the results, coaches and players come together after each game and acknowledge their competitor’s effort. How an individual handles it is up to them, but this action gives each player the opportunity to show and receive respect.
From Tetris to soccer, games require strategy. Understanding how to accomplish a goal with given obstacles is applicable in any life situation. Players often get immediate results from their choices in a game, learning what works and what doesn’t instantly. It’s a fast paced, crash course for what’s to come in life.
Physical and Mental Conditioning
It’s safe to say that only a percentage of preparation is physical. In fact, learning how to push yourself physically is a mental game. Stretching our mental limits beyond what we previously thought was possible stays with an individual long after the game is over. They'll be physically stronger, mentally stronger, and walk with the confidence of new possibilities.
There's a touching video of a high school basketball game that went viral. It was the last game of the season and a team's coach put in Mitchell, a teammate with a learning disability. He had never played in a real game before. Mitchell was so excited to be on the court, looking around as the fans cheered loudly. A player on the opposing team, who was losing, gave Mitchell the ball and let him have his first basket, ever. The crowd rushed the court like it was the NBA Playoffs. For a happy cry, watch here.
If a teammate has an issue with tardiness, coaches will quickly make them address it. Teams have a limited amount of time to practice together and every minute counts. Many coaches present consequences for latecomers. The great ones extend those consequences to the entire team. A team isn’t on time until every member is present. When a group of peers hold you accountable, you’ll suddenly learn how to get there a couple of minutes early.
Leadership is all around us on the athletic field. Coaches, teammates, referees, cheerleaders... You not only have the ability to practice leadership, you get to observe it. And it doesn’t matter how successful people are. We can learn as much from an unsuccessful leader as we can from a great one. The power of practice mixed with observation is a strong lesson learned.
Positive life lessons will stay with a person long after they hang up their jersey. Keep this in mind as you think about joining a team, enrolling your child in a sport, or if you’re on the fence about attending a game. Your presence and support speaks volumes and helps this age old tradition live on.
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