The importance of sports in terms of benefits of physical health, stress management, and more is well known. Many people now also recognize the fact that if their children are passionate about sports, there could also be an opportunity to make a career around it. However, the one benefit of sports that isn’t talked about enough is the life lessons it offers in terms of teamwork and sportsmanship. The Collins dictionary defines sportsmanship as a set of “behavior and attitudes that show respect for the rules of a game and for the other players.” It, therefore includes a gamut of areas such as being fair, encouraging teammates, and more. Lessons learned through sports in one’s formative years can go a long way in instilling a certain way of thinking about issues and fellow travelers that can have a huge bearing on society.
At Pragyanam, one of the best CBSE schools in Gurgaon, we have an unstinting focus on teaching effective life skills to students through sports as a medium. With a whole range of indoor and outdoor sports on offer, what we are teaching are the nuances of the game, alright, but also the many life lessons they offer.
Let us look at some of the values and lessons that can be inculcated through sports:
1. Fair play
The importance of playing fair and playing by the rules is best instilled through sports. While a killer instinct, the importance of winning, and more are often emphasized, what needs to be emphasized more than ever is the fact that players need to play by the rules and that the use of unfair means is a strict no-no. These lessons of integrity learned early will spill over in all aspects of life and will not just apply to sports but to every activity that the child undertakes. Needless to say, when we all start living by this philosophy, the world will be a far better place.
The importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, as well as the benefits of teamwork, are best displayed and learned through sports. It is through sporting practice that the child can learn the need to put the team’s interests over his or her own. What is also important to learn is to allow others to participate and also to allow them to experience their moment under the sun. Children need to learn to praise teammates when they do well and to avoid criticizing them for their mistakes. The important bit is to hold space for everyone, irrespective of how they have performed in a particular game. Sports also teach the values of empathy and good communication that come in handy in building and maintaining relationships throughout life.
Working in a team also equips children with good socialization skills. Children learn that people can have different perspectives and that each deserves to be heard. They also imbibe useful lessons in terms of waiting for their turn, keeping their anger under check, and more. In these days of instant gratification an overall attitude of my-way-or-the-highway, these are skills that can promote individual psychological health as well as hold society together. In fact, these skills also go a long way in helping the child to become a well-adjusted member of society.
When children indulge in team sports, the other important lesson they learn is the lesson of leadership. They recognize the fact that a good leader is one who leads from the front, commands respect, and keeps the interest of the team as being foremost. It is when children internalize this inclusive idea of leadership that we can hope to see some changes in society.
3. Following instructions
Another aspect that children learn through sports is to follow the instructions of their coaches and to play by the strategy that is worked out for the entire team. This, in turn, prepares them for many other aspects of life, where they learn that collective interest is extremely important. It also prepares them to sometimes subsume their individual interests for a common goal.
Sports teaches the importance of discipline to young learners. That there is no shortcut to determination and hard work are life lessons that the child learns. Not only does this lesson help him in his student life and through his academic journey, it is a lesson that sticks with him as he or she transitions into adulthood.
An important value that sports bring alive for children is the need to respect everyone. It could be a teammate or even the opposing team. When the opposing team wins, for instance, it is important to recognize that they played better or have better skills. The lesson to learn is to acknowledge their abilities, learn from them, and move on as a positive person. Similarly, when your team wins, it is good to be cognizant of the aspects that made you win without gloating about it. These skills go a long way in life where one may not always get what one wants but one does not spend life being bitter and rueing the success of others.
6. Learning from mistakes
Another life lesson that one learns through sports is the ability to learn from one’s mistakes and move on. This attitude stands one in good stead in life, where one becomes capable of turning every situation into a learning experience.
While it is easy for both parents and children alike to get caught up in winning the game alone, it is these lessons in teamwork and sportsmanship and these sportsmanship qualities, when learned and implemented, can really transform not just the life of the child but it can also have a larger impact on society. With an understanding of playing fair, cooperating, showing empathy, resolving conflicts, and more, children will be well on their way to building a fair and just society.