February 18, 2010
Team Sports and Success
Occasionally, research is reported on that confirms beliefs you hold but haven’t been certain of. You think that your observations and conclusions are correct but you lack the empirical data to assert the beliefs with any kind of assuredness.
That reality made The New York Times Health section this past Monday so refreshing.
It contained an article that confirmed what I have believed for years but never saw documentation of—- “that team sports can result in lifelong improvements to educational, work and health prospects.”
As budgets for education are cut left and right, with the arts and sports being among the first casualties, it’s worth noting that there are unforeseen benefits to the less traditional aspects of education that aren’t simply “reading, writing and ‘rithmatic.”
The lessons of sport aren’t amenable to easy assessment and evaluation, but they arereal
—-I, as a parent with nearly three decades of schlepping to basketball, baseball and track events, can vouch for that.
As the father of four children, all of whom participated in organized sports through high school (my oldest daughter who was and is a dancer [now a professional] was in a ‘non-traditional’ sport); I can attest on a personal level to the impact that team sports has on kids.
The notions of excellence, of striving to attain better skills, of recognizing differing levels of talent, of learning to work with others of diverse capacities, the joy of victory, and even the disappointment of defeat all result in life-long lessons that extend far beyond the playing field.
By the way, those realities run head-on into to the all too prevalent “self-esteem” notions that we are all “winners” and there aren’t levels of achievement and skill (i.e. that winning and losing and talent are relatively unimportant). Early elementary school kids can figure out who does better and see through phony praise intended to “protect” them. One of my children played on a high school team where the athletic director “strongly suggested” to coaches that every criticism of a player be preceded by four “positive” comments. Mercifully, that was at the end of my kid’s tenure at that school.
Two new studies confirm everything I have ever believed about the impact of team sports—-especially how wonderful they are for young girls.
As the Times reports:
According to the Times, the evidence is overwhelming and convincing. These data might chasten our educational leaders who think they know where funding cuts should be made—-nothing is easy.