10 Things Boys Learn by Playing Sports
What they learn through sports can take them the distance into their adult lives
I look forward to this time of year because my children begin a new year in the homeschool. We have new plans, new curriculum, new attitudes about learning. What’s a highlight every year in sports. Flag football season is renewed once again and that brings with it a full opportunity to purge all which needs to be shed. New beginnings take place and a slate is wiped clean by the hand of God. We see the natural cycle of life transform before our eyes and witness God’s hand in the body of the landscape around us, despite where we may live, in the urban setting or in the backwoods.
We have our eldest back in the game—now his third season—and my middle child is started his first season in the smurf division. It has been a great start, wins and losses, fumbles and winning passes, but the joy of watching my boys play isn’t just accompanied by my daughter’s cheers on the sidelines, but by a shared opportunity to see my boys sharpen their gifts and abilities.
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 1 Timothy 4:8
Here are ten reasons why boys have an advantage when they play sports:
- Sports builds character. We’ve heard this one time and again, haven’t we? But do we know what character means? Webster (1828) defines it like this: “The peculiar qualities, impressed by nature or habit on a person, which distinguish him from others;” A boy who plays on the field will find out what his qualities are on that team that sets him apart from the rest.
- Sports builds work ethic. Work doesn’t begin when our children have a legal permit to earn a wage. Boys are vulnerable to the culture that doesn’t want them to be men, but rather boys for the rest of their lives. I like what Rhonda Stoppe said in a workshop I attended this summer: “I’m raising a man.” And yes, we are raising a man who is still growing into his own. He needs to learn to provide one day for his own family and his own person, so putting him on the field leaves him alone to realize that he can do something without the help of mom and dad guiding him, while relying on his determination to get something done. One thing I scream from the sidelines at the games is, “Come on Broncos, come on Chiefs, let’s do this!” What boys do on the field lies squarely on their shoulders.
- Sports teaches teamwork. You guessed it. Boys are compelled to get along with the team, lest they fail as a team.
- Sports teaches how to handle disappointments. Since they won’t always win a game, they’ll need to swallow their pride and handle disappointments gallantly.
- Sports teaches how to follow instructions. The coach has to call the plays and each team member needs to execute the play. Taking instructions from those overseeing the team or taking advice from those who have played it longer is critical.
- Sports emphasizes improvement over mediocrity. Imagine a running back who won’t be content until he improves to score and to contribute to the team. A player isn’t going to be content with mediocrity, as it doesn’t help the team. He needs to pull his own weight.
- Sports helps discern what is going on in the field. A boy standing on the field needs to know what is going on. If there is an interception, does he know what to do? Conditions on the field are constantly changing and therefore, being vigilant and diligent to all that is going on maintains their focus under all those circumstances.
- Sports encourages accountability. Just as one would be accountable in a family, a team’s success on the field depends much on the accountability each player has for their given role.
- Sports challenges boys to take leadership roles. Pretty simple, right? Understanding the impact they have on a team allows them to mature into a leadership role, regardless of position. It’s a way of determining what they thought they could never do and a way of challenging themselves to do more. “I didn’t realize I could run fast,” “I didn’t realize I could score a touchdown,” and the list goes on and on. They are able to see that they can accomplish something.
- Sports are fun! They are a barrel of laughs, a fountain of joy, and a satisfying way to see your children become more confident and less inhibited.
Post originally published on October 8, 2018. A similar version of this post is published in Crosswalk.