Investing in The Game of Life Is A Win-Win
Heard across countless ball fields and courts on any given day are the sounds of our nation’s youths competing in sports. Tears, cheers and what exists between defeat and exaltation help teach and shape each competitor for years to come.This second in a series of articles on “The True Costs of Child’s Play” shines a bright light on the intrinsic value in youth sports, and takes stock in the futures of America’s youths. Economic and societal imbalances will await another perspective. Yet, most would agree that despite the socioeconomic disparities in the opportunities throughout the sports world, the universal language of competing at its core is priceless. Individual or team play adds a unique dimension to engagement, self-image and development of all types, while enhancing the odds that a devoted youth player will become a loyal sports fan through the ages.
Much like the four C’s of a diamond, I’ll assign a new set of four C’s that define, add clarity, and endure through youth sports. Character. Confidence. Conflict [Resolution]. Collaboration.
The will to compete, persevere and prevail manifests in myriad ways on and off the playing field, forming key attributes that define our character. Whether the All Star, backup or walk-on, an athlete’s response to each distinctive role speaks volumes to his/her teammates, coaches, parents and, for a privileged few, recruiters. Does the All Star lead and inspire with humility? Is the stalwart backup always eager to step-in? Is the walk-on an example of what’s possible with determination? Sports at any age is indeed the great equalizer that creates heroes from good hearts or can unravel the most precise of athletic abilities.
Think walk-on quarterback Baker Mayfield. A Heisman Trophy winner, and this year’s #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. A walk-on with strong character? You decide.
Regardless of skill level, few opportunities present themselves that build confidence more than youth sports. The trepidation of taking that first swing, skating anxiously on a thin blade, or attempting a long and unintended spiral stems from genuine effort to get in the game of testing one’s limits against those with whom he/she competes. Such initiative lays a strong foundation for overcoming fears and gaining confidence with family, friends and later colleagues when faced with challenging and uneasy circumstances throughout life.
More than three-quarters of working women feel that sports participation helps enhance their self-image. -Women’s Sports Foundation
Conflict Resolution –
We can likely recall the ego-driven parent or berating coach and even a relentless teammate whose “win at all costs” temperament meant keeping yours in check. Yes, the playing field, court or rink can teach critical lessons in maintaining poise and performance, while instilling the importance of keeping one’s head in the game. The delicate balance of hierarchy and team plays out throughout youth sports, as coaches lead, and players follow the written and unspoken rules of their respective games. How can she start ahead of me in the lineup? Why am I being pulled? These and countless iterations of, “That’s not fair” are harbingers of what lies ahead in life.
Forty-five percent of kids have been called names or insulted by coaches. – USA Today
Youthful experiences on a team of any kind also teaches some of life’s greatest lessons on relationships. Whether many or few, the number of team players has little bearing on the interactions that occur that build trust, support and camaraderie in a group or one-to-one basis. Not only does healthy collaboration reflect on the success of the team, but it demands a selfless dedication that comes easily to many. Such interpersonal skills can prove more valuable than any championship when faced with new perspectives and the harsh realities that play out in our own lives and in those whom we love.
Hear from 11-time NCAA women’s softball player and Head Coach Sue Enquist.
Cristina Walters is the CEO of She’s A Gamer and the host of a sports talk radio show in Southern California. Hear prior shows that are sure to raise your game http://moneyradio1200.com/program-shes-a-gamer.php. Visit www.ShesAGamer.com to raise your game and sign-up for weekly e-news.