When my older brother, Hugh, and I were much younger, we were pretty awkward. Our activities consisted of boat rides, trips to the beach, making enormous pillow forts, and coloring on the walls with markers….that one was not supervised and did not usually end well for us.
We were pretty big into the trends of the nineties. Hugh probably collected every single pokemon card that ever existed. And we saw the pokemon movie. In theatres. This movie had to have a disclaimer because the intense flashing lights had caused several seizures. I would not recommend this movie to anyone. Not only did Hugh have several non-conventional hobbies, I had my own. It is possible that, at one point in my life, I was the proud owner of two hundred crazy bone go-go’s. It is safe to say that we were huge nerds.
It is also safe to say that we were not very athletic.
When we were a little bit older, our parents wanted us to get involved in team sports. They signed us up for basketball teams, tee-ball teams, baseball teams, soccer teams, a field hockey team, a softball team, a tennis team, and even one very unfortunate cheerleading camp. Clearly none of these were very successful ventures. When my parents realized that they had not, in fact, exhausted all of the sports in existence, they quickly signed us up for the Oreland Swim Team. Which, in retrospect, is very good news for us because they might have signed us up for track. And after so many failed attempts at land sports, I had realized that I was not capable of running faster than an eighty year old with severe arthritis. So at the age of nine, I started swimming. Being involved in sports has truly shaped my character. I used to be extremely shy and even antisocial. Being in a supportive team environment for so long helped me to stay away from bad influences and to spend my time doing something productive and rewarding. I believe that athletics is an extremely positive force in the life of any child of adolescent. Now, to show you the transition we made from nerdy kids to athletes, I’ll show you a video of the boy’s teams’ 400 freestyle relay at Districts last year.
Being involved in sports is beneficial to the athlete for a number of reasons. There is the obvious physical benefits of being active and exercising which is, of course, healthy. But what is perhaps even more important is the impact athletics can have on the social life of participants. For instance, the presence of adult coaches in a child's life presents a positive role model. Its extremely beneficial for young people to be able to look up to someone else, to be able to ask an adult for guidance or advice and to, in a way, model themselves after the adult as the coach will have have been a positive influence in their life. In addition to coaches being role models, on teams where the ages are varied, older kids are exemplary role models for the younger kids. I know that I personally looked up to Jocelyn Pahutski, who was a senior the second year I was swimming and I aspired to be like her and set goals to be as fast as her and as kind as she was to all of her peers and the younger kids.
Children who are not exposed to positive role models are put at a disadvantage compared to their athletic peers. Athletics exposes kids to a larger variety of children than they would be exposed to in school alone, which facilitates tolerance and acceptance, ability to work with kids different from themselves. Sports teach kids to work for the good of the team as a whole, which encourages selflessness.
Being involved in sports gives athletes an advantage over their non athletic counterparts. Those who are involved with sports from a young age are particularly lucky because they will be fostered in an environment which will teach them important life skills. Being on a team encourages kids to set goals, which will translate to their lives outside of the athletic arena. Being on a team also teaches children how to manage their time properly, which definitely translates to the academic arena. Another useful life skill athletics teaches is how to handle disappointment in an appropriate manner.
For my project, I surveyed several athletes and questioned them about their involvement in sports and the effect that is has had on their lives. This is the amalgamation of their responses.
One of the more obvious results of involvement in athletics is the friendships made between team mates! Obviously friends are a serious contributor to the quality of any one’s life. Being in social situations often makes it a lot easier for children to become more comfortable with their identity and with their peers.
Being involved in athletics helps to instill self confidence. Females in particular gain improved self esteem, healthy body image, and &quot;significant experiences of competency and success, as well as reduced risk of chronic disease&quot; from participating in sports. A lot of the statistics that I found were particular to women. Personally, I can testify that this statistic is true. I definitely gained self confidence as a direct result of being involved in swimming and being in a supportive team environment that was so accepting, as many teams are.
While researching, I found several statistics that are kind of surprising in a funny way. According to my research,“female high school athletes have sex later and less frequently than non-athletic women.&quot; &quot;Girls who participate in sports are less likely to drop out of school, more likely to go on to college, and more likely to graduate from college.&quot; &quot;Girl athletes have one of the lowest rates of tobacco use among any sector of the high-school population.&quot; Female athletes are less likely to abuse drugs or get pregnant. And finally, female athletes are more likely to abstain from sex for a longer amount of time, and have fewer sexual partners in their lifetime than girls who do not participate in athletics.