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The Benefits Of Playing Sports At Any Age

Updated on January 25, 2012
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Have you ever thought about sports as being more than just a game? Well, it definitely is, and teaches kids, teens, and adults many life skills and lessons that they will encounter in the future. Discipline, hard work ethic, teamwork, and responsibility are just a few. So next time your son or daughter asks to sign up for soccer or basketball, you may want to think twice before saying no.

As I stated above, sports can teach many life skills and lessons to people of any age. One of those skills is discipline. When someone signs up for a sport, obviously it's something that they want to do. It's almost like it's a priviledge. When you're apart of a team, you need to learn to make wise decisions, on and off the field. If you were to do something wrong at practice or during a game (more than just making a mistake), something like yelling derogatory things at the other team or swearing, you wouldn't play! You may even be kicked off of the team. If the athlete were in high school and they were caught with drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, they would not be playing and again may be kicked off of the team. In other words, the athlete must have self discipline to control their actions to stay on the team and play. This goes hand in hand with keeping kids off the streets where they otherwise would be getting into trouble, and keeping them away from making bad decisions. They'll want to play so they will learn to make good decisions and have great self discipline.

Another life skill athletes take away from sports is a hard work ethic. As I stated above, if an athlete signs up to play a sport, they obviously want to be there. When they are practicing, the coach is looking for the best team he/she can put out there, which means if you aren't working the hardest and giving all of your effort, you won't play. If you are fighting for a spot with someone else, you will work your hardest to make sure the coach chooses you. When you are playing any type of a game, sports or not, more than likely you want to win. Nobody ever wants to loose. Wanting to win games means practicing hard. You learn that if you want something (in this case, the "win") you need to work for it. The same applies to real life. If you want the job, scholarship, or entrance into that college, you need to work for it! Nothing in life is handed to you, and by playing sports and working hard, you develop a strong work ethic that will stick with you.

In order to have that strong work ethic, you need to carry the traits of motivation and determination. That desire to do well and win games is the motivation and determination working inside of you. If you're not motivated, you will not strive to do your best. Along with that goes the desire not to let your teammates down. Possessing these traits will take you far in your life and career. Having them both working hand in hand makes you a "go getter" and willing to go to any lengths to get something that you want. In life, motivation and determination may be the deciding factor in getting the manager position or the desk clerk position (however, nothing is wrong with a desk clerk =) )

Obviously, if you are playing a team sport, teamwork is a crutial element to success. While playing sports, you learn to work together, as a team, to reach a common goal: winning. You must learn to be open minded and flexible to other people's opinions, and respect what they have to say and offer. Being a good listener is a great quality to have when trying to exercise the concept of teamwork. In the office, you must work together with your colleagues to reach a common goal as well. In that case it will most likely be something different, but the same principles apply; listening, respecting, and being open minded. You won't always get your way when working with others, but you must learn to give a little and take a little.

Speaking of not always getting your own way, let's talk about winning and losing. Winning and losing are inevitable parts of life. In a game or competition, someone will always win and someone will always lose. It's great when you're on the winning end, but not so on the other end. Believe it or not, how you handle losing and winning is and important reflection on who you are. In sports, we are taught how to win and lose. When we win, we're taught not to show boat, or scream and yell, or rub it into others faces. When we lose, we are taught not to get mad, not to throw a fit, and not be a "sore loser." These things are taught to us and we don't even realize it! When you do win or lose, it's important to evaluate yourself on your performace. There's always room for improvment, and by working hard and showing some determination you can always practice harder and make yourself better. All of this goes hand in hand with the real world. When you get a job or promotion, you can go running around and throwing it into people's faces. They'll resent you! Being proud of yourself is a must, but keep it under control. Other the flipside, when you don't get the promotion, you know not to go into sulk mode for pity because people will judge you for that, seeing that you can't handle yourself when things don't go your way, or when you lose.

Another life situation we are constantly encountering is stress and pressure. Sports definitely teach us how to act and react under stress and pressure. There are many high-stress, intense-pressure situations in sports. We must learn to act and react on the fly, making split second decisions. After we make those decisions, we must take responsibility for them, whether they are good or bad. It helps you to fell more confident in making those decisions, because in sports you are faced with them multiple times a season, if not in a game. In life, we are also faced with these high-stress, intense-pressure situations where we in turn need to make a split second decision that could make or break something. Having practiced making decisions in this atmosphere better prepares us to make good decisions instead of bad ones.

America is bigger than we've ever been. Portion sizes are outrageous, activity level is horrendous, and the amount of obese people in the world is absolutely ridiculous. When playing sports, you need to be active and moving around. Most sports require conditioning (some intense conditioning) to be physically ready for the demands placed on your body during a game. Sports provide "free," fun exercise. They help you to develop healthy active lifestyles that hopefully turn into habits. When you are exercising, you tend to eat better, so you feel better. These healthy eating habits, if started early in life, can carry into your teen and adult years, and eventually just become norms. Each person that joins a sport is one step closer to a healthier lifestyle which just makes you feel better in every way possible.

The last thing I want to talk about is responsibility. I feel that kids these days really lack this trait. When you play a sport you must: 1. Be on time. 2. Know when practice/games are. 3. Bring all of your equipment. 4. Be responsible for your actions. 5. Be responsible for your decisions. 6. Be responsible for yourself. If you are not responsible for one of these things, you will not be successful on a team. Responsibility starts in Kindergarten and ends when you do. Everything we do each and every day starts with responsibility. Setting the alarm clock to wake up? Responsibility. Caring for our kids? Responsibility. You get the point. Sports help reinforce and practice, practice, practice this skill until it is embedded into athlete's brains. You must be responsible!!!!

Overall, sports are a fun and healthy way to obtain many of the life skills and situations we will no doubt encounter at some point in our lives. Everyone can learn from sports whether you are 5, 15, 25, or 65. There's always something to learn or fine tune and sports can be just the thing you're missing!


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