It happened again! I drove past a soccer field and, as I watched the kids running up and down that field, I couldn’t stop myself from reminiscing about my own boys’ playing years. Those years of participation in organized sports were great ones for my boys…and for their parents! They developed important skills and forged strong friendships on those fields.
With so much negative press surrounding organized youth sports – parents and/or coaches who are overly involved, who lose sight of the game, or who push children into portals they don’t enjoy – we often forget there is real value to participation in organized sports. So, let’s focus on the positive. Here are 5 key benefits of organized sports:
- Physical Well-Being: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who participate in structured sporting activities have a reduced risk of weight-related health issues, such as heart disease and diabetes. Regular physical activity helps to curb the current trend toward childhood obesity. (http://www.livestrong.com/article/364522-pros-cons-of-youth-sports/)
- Psychological Well-Being: Research indicates that participation in organized sports reduces anxiety and depression, and enhances self-esteem. Structured sports give children a venue to develop a sense of self-discipline; to learn leadership, coping, and critical-thinking skills; and to build character. (http://www.aboutourkids.org/articles/sports_kids_pathway_healthy_development_or_unhealthy_competition)
- Value of Teamwork: Children learn the importance of working together as a team to reach their goals because each individual player executes a role vital to the overall success of the team. They learn to recognize the importance of depending on (and cooperating with) each other to achieve their shared goals; they learn to trust and respect others.
- Academic and Occupational Success: Studies have shown that participation in organized sports contributes to a lower delinquency and dropout rate in schools, and leads to increased possibilities for occupational success. Structured sporting participation encourages a sense of responsibility and respect for self and others that is reflected in the workplace.
- Social Well-Being: Children who participate in sporting activities share common interests and common goals, thereby having a ready foundation for the development of friendships. These friendships tend to be stronger and last for a long time because of the level of social interaction and reliance fostered in the atmosphere of teamwork present on and off the field. (http://www.livestrong.com/article/95882-benefits-organized-sports-kids/)
Without question, I can see the benefits my own boys gained through organized sports now that they are adults – they have a sense of reasonability and responsibility, they work well in group situations, they know their attitudes affect the people they interact with on a daily basis…they have learned a lot of important lessons. And, perhaps even more remarkably, they developed some strong, lifelong friendships…a few of John’s closest friends were his high school teammates, and seven of my son Jimi’s groomsmen were his high school soccer teammates!
It is clear to me those lessons learned and relationships forged on the field have a significant impact on life off the field!