Importance of Sports

Except for the somewhat puzzling, seemingly excessive, Canadian TV coverage of volleyball, I must say I’ve really enjoyed watching the Olympics even though it resulted in far too much late night TV.

Unfortunately, instead of being inspired by the Olympics, exercise in our house has consisted largely of wrestling for control of the channel changer or sprinting for snacks during the commercials.  Ironic isn’t it? 

I am crossing my fingers in hope that with the Olympics now being over I’ll be motivated to let my own games begin.

I’ve also been thinking more about sports because we just hired a terrific young graduate from the Recreation and Leisure Services Program at Niagara College who is very much into sports. Baseball, lacrosse, hockey, golf…you name it he seems to be good at it.  Although he grew up on the Six Nations reserve and expects to ultimately return there, he credits sports with seeding his ambition for education and a desire for life learnings beyond the reserve. He is passionate about sharing this first hand understanding of the importance of recreation and sports with other youth.

No doubt about it, sports are important…not just for the health benefits (that would be like saying you eat because you want to exercise your jaws) but because they also teach important life lessons.
My first involvement with competitive sports began when I was quite young with swimming.  At first I dreaded just getting into the water because all municipal pools seem to have their water pumped in from the Arctic.  However, it didn’t take me long to learn that it was easiest if I simply took a deep breath and dove right in.  It’s a pretty good philosophy that I learned to transfer to real life.

Swimming also taught me to accept that there are some things I’m just never going to be good at no matter how hard I work at it.  I clearly recall my swim instructor telling me there are sinkers and there are floaters. I am without a doubt a sinker who requires an extraordinary amount of effort just to stay afloat. Needless to say I never worked as a lifeguard.

I did however play on our high school volleyball team. That taught me about the importance of goal setting and team play.  I learned firsthand how a team with a vision and a lot of enthusiastic support can win… even when paired against a team with more skill and experience.

My most significant sport involvement though was with competitive track and field.  I can vividly recall the exact moment when I decided to get serious about running.  I was sixteen years old, heading home late one fall night after visiting a friend.  Startled by what I thought were stealthy footsteps behind me, I started running.  Quickly outdistancing my follower, I kept running… feeling strong, healthy and alive.  It was a heady feeling for a teenager and one that I knew I wanted to experience again.  I started training seriously, learning how to work hard and dig deep.  I learned to run through what was often referred to as the wall-of-pain and find reserves I didn’t know I had.  I learned that even when I was sure I couldn’t possibly bear up, I could and did.  I won a number of major competitions and learned along the way that anything is possible if you believe. 

As the research will attest, this involvement in sports led to an increase in confidence, self esteem and feelings of success.  Given the rather dysfunctional nature of my family it was especially important for me.

Upbringing or ultimate ability aside, involvement in sports is an important foundation for any child that is guaranteed to deliver significant physical and social benefits.

Posted on 08-25-08

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