Bay Area radio personality Damon Bruce ends his show each night with the line, "Sports don't build character, they reveal it." In many ways, he is right; A lot about a person can be found out by how they deal with obstacles and adversity. While sports is not the corporate world, it offers situations that can both teach and reveal. I think it is important that kids be introduced to sports at a young age. There are many benefits, both long and short term. Aside from the physical benefits, they offer kids a chance to learn how to work as a team, overcome adversity, and the chance to experience the thrill of victory and defeat.
The most popular acronym for TEAM is together everyone achieves more; I am not sure there is a better life lesson than that. Being a productive part of a team is something that should be learned at an early age. It will certainly benefit the child later in life, because almost every job in America will require some form of teamwork. The sooner that children learn about teamwork, the more likely the will be willing to work with others and even ask for help when needed. Knowing that you have people around you who support and care for you can be a very positive influence for a child. Confidence can be gained knowing everything does not have to be done by themselves. Consequently, a child will be more willing to both help and ask for help in the future.
As an adult, adversity is almost a daily occurrence. Between work, friends and family, curve balls are always being thrown into the puzzle of life. Learning how to overcome such problems can be learned as early as childhood. Sports almost always offers various opportunities to work through adversity. Whether an opponent is bigger, faster, or stronger, there is almost certainly a way to conquer them. Learning how to identify and solve problems is a tool that will serve a child well throughout their entire life. From finding a job to paying bills, life offers plenty of problems for an adult to figure out. With the proper background, they can be addressed and dealt with in a timely manner.
To experience the thrill of victory, one does not always have to be the hero. Sports teaches us that there many roles to play, not just the starring role. All parts are important to the outcome, so all are equal when it comes to the team concept. Furthermore, learning how to accept defeat is another important life lesson. We have all seen the little kid who cries, kicks and screams whenever things do not go as planned. Humility is a valuable lesson that should be instilled as early as possible.
In conclusion, sports are a very important tool for a young child. While there are certain risks associated with sports, that can also be a valuable lesson. Learning how to asses risk and act on them will serve your child well. Nothing was scarier as a child than the first time facing another child pitching from a mound. You did not know where is was going to go; if it was going to be a strike, a ball or if it was going to hit you. Much like life, you can either hold your ground or bail out. The ones who decide to stand there ground are off to a much faster start in life.