Whitefield Academy Blog
7 Reasons Your Student Should Play Sports
A caveat to start: I grew up doing musicals. I probably played soccer and softball a handful of times. I was on the rowing team in college as a coxswain because I was short and loud. I am no sports expert. So I turned to some seasoned sports parents to ask them the questions: Why should my daughters play sports? What’s the point of competing in athletics? Here’s what they said:
1.) To Build Healthy Bodies: When you are a middle-schooler or high-schooler there are few better ways to stay healthy than playing a sport (I would consider dance a “sport” for this category). Getting students in the habit of exercising on a daily basis and eating healthy is a huge way to set them up for a healthy adult life.
2.) To Gain Confidence With Successes and Failures: Of course we know that being good at sports can build confidence. You score a goal, everyone cheers, confidence built. But we don’t often think of the confidence through failure that sports can give to our children. When our children fail on the field or the court or the track, and they see their parents, coaches, and teammates loving them and encouraging them anyway, it’s an amazing picture of God’s love for them. Love that is not based on works but continues no matter what.
3.) To Learn to Work With Others: Whether it’s people you don’t like, people who are more talented than you, people who are less talented than you, or people who just don’t try at all, being on a team forces you to not only engage with these people but to play with them and support them. In the same way that you can’t pick your family, you can’t pick your teammates (or your coworkers for that matter). Giving our children safe situations where they can work with other people who are different than them prepares them for a lifetime of working with all different kinds of people.
4.) To Work Hard Even When You Don’t Feel Like It: If you don’t show up to work just because you don’t feel like it, you’ll soon be out of work. Much better for a student to learn that consequence by getting benched at practice because they had a bad attitude than for them to learn it in their first job.
5.) To Learn Time Management Skills: High-schoolers who play sports are busy. Whether its early morning practices or late night games, athletes have to learn how to be active in their sport while still giving full attention to school work and other extracurricular activities. This means that sometimes they have to make hard decisions about whether or not they can hang out with friends when they know they need rest before a big meet.
6.) To Learn How to Take Criticism: No one likes to be criticized. We are sinful creatures, and pride is one of the easiest sins to slip into, but when kids see constructive criticism at an early age coming from coaches who clearly love them, support them, and want them to succeed, it helps to foster a culture of humility.
7.) To Let Your Child Make Mistakes: This one is for parents. There is little in life harder for a parent than watching your child make a mistake…in front of you. Sure you can yell from the stands (and many parents do), but at a certain point, when your child is out on the field, they are on their own. Sports are, once again, a safe place for children to make mistakes and for their parents to watch the mistake happen and help their child learn from it, rather than protecting them from the situation all together.
Of course your student can learn or achieve many of these things from other extracurricular activities, and no, sports are not for everyone (raising my hand). I do think, however, that the team aspect and competition involved with being on a sports team are fairly unique. The point that I find myself hearing over and over again is that being on a sports team is a safe place for our students to learn skills that they will use over and over again in their adult lives. So as parents and coaches, we need to be careful that the teams we are choosing for our students or are in charge of are places where those learning experiences can gracefully occur.