Sport Offers More Than Just a Game When Considering Youth Development

By: Marcus. M

Often times when we consider sport, we tend to believe that sport is just a game. A game that consists of two teams playing each other or in individual sports two players competing against each other. In sport the goal is to determine an outcome in which there is an ultimately one winner and a loser, but there is so much more to sport than just winning or losing a game. Sport should be portrayed in way more ways than just a game. Sport is an opportunity for youth to develop important life skills and life lessons that will help them in their future.

Sport participation provides youth with important skills, skills such as healthy competition, social skills and work ethic. Healthy competition is very important to understand, especially in a world where competition is relevant in just about anything you try and accomplish. Sport provides an opportunity to compete on a regular basis, allowing for youth to become more comfortable with a competitive atmosphere.

Another skill that sport provides for youth to develop is socialization with others. I know from personal experiences of playing sports, that just being surrounded by coaches and teammates everyday goes a long way in building social skills. Social skills are very important in your adult life especially when considering the work world and the dating world, being able to socialize and do it comfortably is a skill that could be very beneficial.

The last skill I’ll discuss is work ethic. In sport to get better at your craft you have to put the work in. Children often times don’t want to do things that are tough or challenging for them. They would rather just do the easier things or the more enjoyable things.  Coaches and teammates have to hold each other accountable when it comes to work ethic. They have to preach the importance of effort opposed to results. If sport leaders help youth understand that, the more likely youth will become to open to the idea of working hard. Whether it be practice or workouts, sport allows for youth to understand the effectiveness and importance of work ethic and the younger you realize that the more prepared you’ll be later on in life.

The biggest benefit in sport, from a personal perspective, is the opportunity to be free and just live in the moment. When shaping the future of youth, it is important for there to be an activity or activities that benefit youth, but also that don’t take away from kids being kids.  Many youth have their own struggles whether it be school issues or family issues, sport allows for youth to get away from all that and simply just be a kid.  Sport provides a safe and enjoyable environment that succeeds far more than just a game in which there is plenty of valuable lessons are learned.


21 Life Lessons Kids Learn Through Youth Sports (2017) Retrieved from:

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7 Responses to Sport Offers More Than Just a Game When Considering Youth Development

  1. blok01 says:

    Absolutely Marcus, I definitely agree with the points that you are making. The importance of healthy competition, especially when it is mediated by adults. Youth who have the opportunity to be put into that competitive environment, will see that life later on is not always about winning. Looking at the socialization part of your blog, establishing those social skills provide youth with the notion that they cannot be afraid to talk to peers when the situation asks for it. Playing sports, naturally, you learn to communicate to one another. Whether that be in a team setting or not, being able to communicate later on in one’s life is crucial to succeed in a professional setting. Onto your last point, work ethic, growing up on a farm, and playing sports taught me about work ethic quickly and constantly. The simple way of putting it is the more work put in the better the result. However, in team sports it is a group effort. One person cannot carry a team, or at least for a period of time, the concept of work ethic spans across of aspects of life, as you have said children not wanting to do challenging tasks, and you are correct in saying so, because I was one of those types of kids when it came to tasks I was unfamiliar with. In your conclusion, I think that is evident in the children that I have seen in sport, rec., and leisure activities. They just enjoy being able to do their own thing.

  2. johnhunt17 says:

    Very insightful post Marcus! I strongly agree that sport creates many opportunities for youth to positively develop a variety of skills and attributes. It was great to see such a positive perspective on the benefits of sport in regards to having freedom and having special moments leading to a positive sport experience. I feel like far too often we can complicate sports and change their purpose away from simply having fun and being physically active. In class we discussed how youth’s participation in sport can reduce health inequalities through: social interaction and building social networks, development of leadership, teamwork, cooperation, communication and creative thinking skills, building self-esteem and confidence, and helping divert youth’s attention away from potential negative behaviors such as substance or criminal activities. Equality, inclusion, respect, and fairness are core values obtained through sport which empowers youth to be self-determined, responsible, and contribute towards their communities. We also learned in class how physical recreation has a great impact Healthy Childhood Development as well as provides opportunities for youth to create social support networks with peers in a positive social and physical environment.
    Thee are all important aspects that lead to long-term sport participation and overall love for the sport.

    John H.

  3. acamero5 says:

    Definitely agree with everything you’ve stated Marcus. A lot of the time, people don’t fully comprehend the life lessons and skills that can be taught through sport if they have not experienced it for themselves. Sports (especially team sports) can teach you so many things that will help you throughout your life such as healthy competition and work ethic as you stated, and I find these two are very important traits to possess. Healthy competition can be extremely valuable because all throughout life they teach you that ‘not everything is a competition’, but at the same time you will be faced with many different challenges and competitions. Healthy competition will ultimately teach you to fight your battles and do what you need to do to achieve them (the competition aspect) but it will teach you how to battle fairly, by the rules, and how to be a good opponent; which can be very helpful because in life you sometimes end up having to work with someone you once had to go against (healthy aspect).
    I too believe a good work ethic is essential, and you’re definitely right when you say most people don’t want to do something that may be tough, or would rather do something more ‘enjoyable’ as opposed to something not as fun. My dad always taught me growing up that if you have a good work ethic in one thing, it would translate over to others. By that he meant that if I work hard in school, did my homework, assignments and study hard, that the trait itself would carry over to playing sports, or anything else that I chose to do. And speaking from personal experience I found that he was right; if there was a day where I didn’t pay attention in class, and didn’t work hard/focus in school, then I found that if I went to practice it was harder for me to focus and I would tend to have more of an off day. Where as if I worked hard in my studies, and then went to practice I found it easier to focus on my sport and seemed to do much better. Working hard at one thing, tends to go hand in hand with working hard at another.
    Alex Cameron

  4. agreggnb says:

    great post Marcus.

    Sports are an important tool for people of all ages to develop social skills. In youth especially, this can be a fun way to develop, make friends and take risks in a controlled environment. Not only will youth make friends in their team and sport, but they will be creating a support network. If they lose a game they will still have each other and will be motivated to help each other improve. if they are having a hard time out of the sport, they will know that when they go to their sport, they have a place to focus on them selves and their team. This means sport can be a form of meditation or therapy for them.

    You made a good point about work ethic too. Sport teaches independence and a strong work ethic. Youth learn that in order for their team to succeed, everyone needs to be contributing equally. Once they have this mindset for their team, they will incorporate a similar mindset to their daily lives. This is because many youth identify themselves strongly with the sports and activities they participate in. The strong work ethic built in sport, becomes a trait of their personality.

    Alec G

  5. jamariobar says:

    Nice Marcus
    i totally agree with you that sports offers more than just a game and along with the points you have mentioned, i believe that sports have the ability to save the lives of many of the youth today keeping them out of prison and preventing them from being killed not having them be just a statistic. In my experience with trouble youth or youth who live in violent and drug prevalent communities it’s all they know and have been exposed too. sports have the ability to change that majority of the youth who i have met were illiterate and couldn’t read,write and do math very well. What really bothered me what how their first response to possible failure or what they say as a threat was to be violent and aggressive. As i got to know them and i watch them play the sport they had the natural athletic ability to play sports, but what was troubling was the environment that they had to go home every night. They wasn’t much that i could do so i used sports as a way to show them how society functions and how the rules in society relates to the sport they played and the doors that sport an open for them. Though the program they were made aware the value education has on their lives as they get older and become adults. They were also able to get caught up in school through the program and the improvement in learning skills and to see that their is more to life than just violence and drugs. It wasn’t all good results their were some set backs where some revert back to their old habits probably because they were comfortable or because or peer pressure and some were successful in furthering their education and being a productive member of society because of the way sports were used as a teaching tool in the program.

  6. carsonmatchett says:

    Really enjoyed reading you post Marcus!

    As a kid I did not view sport as anything other than something that I knew I enjoyed doing. I liked going, getting better at the sport, and seeing my friends. At the time this was enough to keep me interested but now I see all the other positives that came with my involvement and it is quite staggering to see the developmental benefits that’s that came with my participation. Through sport I learned many critical social skills and developed a strong understanding on how to deal with and be around many different types of people. I think it would be helpful to teach youth the benefits of sport and leisure at a young age, encouraging them to participate and learn these useful skills, shifting their participation from being purely enjoyment based and more on the idea of bettering themselves overall. Reflecting on my experience with sport as a kid I believe that this type of education would have been beneficial on increasing my involvement as I became older and started putting other more unhealthy interests before sport.

    – Carson

  7. jordanaveryatwin says:

    I agree, youth sport isn’t just a game, and I believe proper trained coaches is a key element in developing the youth through sport. When we have untrained or improperly trained coaches is when the kids tend to see it as only a game and how winning is all that matters, but when we have better trained coaches and better informed parents we give the youth more opportunities to learn valuable life lessons through the sports such as how to be a leader of to be a humble victor and a gracious loser. Sport helps youth build peer to peer relationships as well as build peer to adult relationships. It helps build up confidence where they can use in other situations outside off sport. Being an athlete can help in build good habits that translate well into school and possibly work in the future. In short I believe your blog was great and I just wanted to mention how important the adults working these programs can be in how well the youth develop outside of the sport alone.

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