I grew up an athlete. In 5th grade, I started Taekwondo and practiced it well into my high school years when I got competitive and joined division, regional and national meets. Years after I packed the Dobok and kept the belt, I still believed in the cause of sports and how important it is in one's development.
We read many articles on the importance of sports in youth development and how sports plays a vital part in one's childhood. From the point of view of a mother whose children are also into sports, I have listed down a few of the things I have witnessed my children learn through their chosen sports:
1. Sports Can be Hard. Life Too
The reality is, nothing is easy. The vastness that life offers can never be understood in one sitting or in one experience. When children experience sports, they are exposed to all realities of life. Specially for team sports, kids engage themselves with other children coming from different backgrounds, having different beliefs. The teams kids find themselves in teaches them to adapt and adjust to different personalities, different ways and different practices but with the need to embrace each members uniqueness in order to attain the goal of the team.
My eldest son who does competitive triathlon is involved in an individual sport where most assume that one's own strength gets the job done. However, as a parent who has observed the sport over the years, you will understand that this sport requires teamwork and team tactics too. Through the training camps he attends locally and abroad, he meets different other triathletes from other countires and each time he comes home from these camps, he has a dozen stories to tell of the different backgrounds each athlete possesses.
That said, they have a better and bigger understanding of the world around them. They also appreciate what they have but also are driven to be more mindful of Gods blessings and provisions.
2. Hard Work Beats Talent (When Talent Fails to Work Hard)
We've seen it way too many times, talents gone to waste. We've also heard this many times, the time, effort and dedication gets the job done. Add in persistence, consistency and discipline. All these do not come naturally. But yes we have seen natural talents.
I believe in this saying because I think my 3 kids are not naturals. I have hear many coaches say my eldest did not have a fighting chance as a swimmer (with so many reasons given) or that my second son (thin as he is) may have a hard time winning on the track. Bottom line is, my kids were never told "you are a natural at it." However, I was never also a believer of overnight success. Add in our own competitiveness, we are able to drive home the point of working hard to improve on one's skill.
Involvement in sports exposes a child to value hard work and effort. The results will vary. On some days you win, on most days you learn. But what matters is, you did what you had to do.
3. A Healthy Lifestyle Promotes a Healthy Mind
Years ago, when my husband and I enjoyed binge drinking and I loathed not puffing a cigarette our children also did not care about sleeping right and eating right. My eldest had weight concerns, my second son was always sick and my youngest was closely following on the path of his two older brothers.
On that day that we decided to change our ways, I knew there was no turning back. All of us had better sleeping patterns, we took the initiative of drinking more water and choosing the right food to eat. The effects did not happen over night but as time passed, we noticed the children's disposition became calmer and we all had more energy to do the things we needed to do. Over all, we had a clearer mind and we could sense that the children were also doing better in school (and us at work)!
Sports is a huge topic. Huger nowadays with the many breakthroughs in research and product development. However, if we go back to the basics and understand the deeper essence of sports as an excellent arena for character building, you will appreciate the beauty of transformation that happens when children embrace the love for this. A coach told me, winning (in sports) is always just a cherry on top of the cake. It is how it molds you for life that the trophy is won.
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