Plummeting participation in youth sports is a real(ly bad) thing.
I recently read an article discussing the, unfortunate, reality that the United States is facing a significant reduction in the percent of adolescents involved in competitive athletics. In a quick google search I easily found reputable news outlets highlighting varying aspects of this reality. However, my initial finding was an article written by Evan Bleier published by InsideHook on August 7, 2019.
I will summarize the article, and subsequently my concern, in to one statement: between 2008 and 2018, regular participation on team sports dropped from 45 percent to 38, among kids between six and 12 years old. First, the seven percent drop in ten years is nothing to scoff at. Secondly, this trend will surely continue.
As a former athlete, I may equip a slightly enhanced view on importance of sports. That being said, it is with no greater urgency that I express my belief that it is an incredible shame that youth in this nation are becoming less involved in athletics. There are numerous benefits derived from playing sports, which result in an unparalleled platform allowing for immense growth. To start, it is an incredible way to surround oneself with friends and community. Further, at a young age kids are learning invaluable lessons about communication, time management, teamwork, dealing with adversity, and personal responsibility – to name a few. These are all things that I have appreciated, especially throughout higher education and my early professional career. Moreover, I would bet my bottom dollar that should you ask any former athlete, they would tell you the same thing.
Have you ever lost an important game as a direct result of your poor performance? I have, and that taught me how to handle hiccups and obstacles of the real world.
Have you ever had to sacrifice a social life to succeed in athletics? I have, and that taught me how to handle the realities vital priorities in the workplace.
Have you ever needed to motivate teammates while staring at scoreboard you don’t enjoy? I have, and that taught me how to effectively communicate with coworkers facing tight deadlines.
Have you ever dealt with a coach, umpire or referee that is clearly biased? I have, and that taught me how to handle complex situations with hierarchy and authority.
Have you ever needed to place your agenda behind team needs? I have, and that taught me that pursuing the mission and vision is far more important that personal success.
Participating in athletics for a significant amount of time will lead to similar experiences. Undoubtedly, the lessons learned on the playing surface translate to invaluable understandings later in life. I would not have been the student I was, nor the employee I am now, if it was not for the imperative life-lessons taught by the tribulations of sports.