When talking about parenting, the phrase ‘the real world’ is often tossed around. But what does this phrase mean? It means life; the roller coaster of emotions and the experiences that are learned. Parents wish to protect their child from the bad experiences they themselves have had, while still teaching them the important lessons learned along the way. The closest way to make this possible is through sports.
Participating in a sport teaches children many life lessons that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. They will get to experience these life lessons first hand, but on a smaller scale.
By the time children reach parenthood, they have come to understand what it means to work hard and the importance of it. Participating in a sport will teach the child that if he wants to win, he has to practice. This is a metaphor for life. If he wants the job, he has to prepare.
The child gets to see for himself how much he improves throughout the season with practice. These improvements are rewarded in games, by winning. As the child gets older, the sports become more competitive. There will be competition between teammates as well as other teams. The child will be forced to work hard in order to earn a spot on the team, to beat out an opponent. He will realize that there will always be someone who is better than him and always someone who is worse. He then must decide how hard he is willing to work to be as good as he possibly can.
Playing a sport is often the first time a child is accountable to anyone but himself. If he fails to turn his homework in, he is the only one who gets a poor grade. However, if the child shows up to a game and puts no effort in, he is letting his team down. The team and coach will be disappointed in him, and it is likely he will get taken out. The child learns to be accountable for his actions and consider how others will be affected. This leads to teamwork.
Playing a team sport is very important as it teaches a lesson that many children today seem to have overlooked. Every child is told they are special. Although this is true, they do not realize that every other child is special as well. This is where teamwork comes into play. Every player has a role on the team. Each role is important and when everyone comes together and does their particular job, it breeds success! With teamwork, comes communication.
Communication is an important component in every team sport. If a child is open for a shot and wants the ball, he must speak up. This teaches the child to go after what he wants, rather than waiting for it come to him. Children are humans too. Meaning, it is human nature to be selfish and for a child to want to take the shot himself so he can be the star. The other children learn that unless they ask for it, nothing will be given to them. Unfortunately, this does not change as they mature. Whether they make the shot or not, they had an opportunity and they took the risk of failing.
Failure is inevitable. Although many parents are in denial of this, and manage to “protect” their kids until they are told no for the first time when they are 18 and denied from their dream school. Failure is a part of life. The sooner the child recognizes this, the better. Why? Because along with failure comes rebound. The 18 year old who gets their first glimpse of failure when it comes to something that affects the rest of their life will not know how to deal with it. Whereas, although a child who has played sports and understands the concept of failure and persistence, will still be disappointed when he is denied, he will recognize that he has felt this way before and he recovered and moved on. When a child loses his first game he will most likely be upset. Eventually he will move on and experience a win. They will realize the joy they feel from winning was worth the pain they felt from the loss.
A child who has played sports his whole life understands the value of risk. Everything in life involves risk. There is risk in business, risk in friendship, and risk in love. The winning and losing metaphor correlates and the child realizes that the joy and pride he feels from getting a job is worth the possibility of pain and disappointment when getting denied.