Chain Reaction Foundation Ltd

Developing Character and Being a Team Player

by Margaret Bell | September 23, 2019

Developing Character and Being a Team Player

There are few things in this life as divisive as sports.

On the one hand, you have the die-hards whose lives hang on the results of the Socceroos or the Wallabies. On the other, you have the not-insignificant contingent of people who decry the whole thing as a waste of time.

You may decide to love or loathe sports, but "a waste of time" is not quite on the mark. Of course, sports provide great entertainment for many (not for all, certainly) and even offer fabulous wealth for the lucky and talented few, but their worth goes far beyond this.

For some, school will be their only opportunity to find connection with sporting endeavours

It's springtime again, which means 'back to school' for the millions of school-age kids across the country. Many of these kids may have spent the winter kicking footies around or engaging in swimming, running, or other activities. However, for some, the school year will be the only opportunity they have to connect with sporting endeavour.

"Who cares?" you may well ask. A study conducted by the NCAA over in the US found that only 5% of kids who play extra-curricular sport in high school went on to do so in college. And of those, only 1% went on to play their sport professionally. In other words, the vast majority of young athletes will be done with their sporting careers by the time they finish up at secondary school. So why should kids be encouraged to do something they are going to be leaving behind in a few years anyway?

Well, let's put aside for a moment the enormous physical health benefits of playing sport, and the huge enjoyment we can derive from sport, no matter what level we compete at. There are, in fact, a number of seriously profound benefits associated with sport -- benefits that work towards creating a more harmonious society for us all.

What do extra-curricular sports teach us?

Think about it this way: Sure, the majority of us won't pursue a sporting career in any truly meaningful way, beyond keeping fit and having a laugh with our mates, but...

  • All of us will need to play a role in some kind of team
  • All of us will suffer setbacks and need to respond in the right way
  • All of us will have to work with someone they disagree with
  • All of us will experience some degree of humiliation that needs to be dealt with
  • All of us will need to deal with a difficult situation regarding a peer
  • All of us will need to deal with authority figures
  • All of us will need to be brave at some point
  • All of us need to give and receive trust
  • All of us need to learn to win and lose with grace
  • All of us need to be team players, not just in our immediate groups of friends, family, and colleagues, but in our society at large

Sporting endeavours, engaged in from an early age, help our young people to prepare themselves for what life throws their way. Sports, in other words, are certainly not a waste of time.

Margaret Bell, AM - Founder and CEO of Chain Reaction Foundation.

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