The Benefits of Sports

Exposing children to sports teams at a young age can contribute to their success later on.


Mia Capretta, Staff Writer

I, a senior in high school, have never been a member of a real sports team. While this is sad and slightly unbelievable, it has taught me a substantial amount about why I believe every child should play a sport. Of course, throughout my childhood, there were weeks that my parents tried to encourage me to play a game of soccer or two. Even so, I never stuck with a sport long enough to appreciate the benefits that come with being on a team.

As someone who is not naturally athletic or especially coordinated, it became very easy for me to believe I could never be an asset on a team. I even shut down the idea of participating in gym class. I was embarrassed because I felt I lacked experience where it seemed like everyone else had it.

And the feeling extended beyond school.

Birthday parties, school socials, and weekends in the park are times most children look forward to. However, I was quite anxious to attend them because they almost always ended with the group finding a ball and playing a game. It was scary to join my peers when I knew they had just come from soccer practice, while I had been coloring outside the lines of a Disney coloring book. It came to the point where I wanted to exclude myself from countless events, and I missed opportunities to form close friendships with my peers.

When a child spends their time in a structured, active environment with like-minded peers, they develop skills that they use for the rest of their lives. They are taught how to exercise properly, follow a healthy diet, and work as an active group member. Ballet dancers, for example, are trained using extreme discipline and rigor. These dancers are molded in such a way that their posture is constantly perfect outside of the studio. Once a child becomes aware of ways to better themselves physically and mentally, it becomes difficult to ignore those things.

Additionally, teenagers commonly struggle with body image. But the life skills that come from participating in a sport make it easier for young people to develop self-confidence during these critical years. The Women’s Sports Foundation noted that “Girls and women who play sports have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well-being than girls and women who do not play sports.” The idea that being involved in something so healthy could be equally as healthy for your mind is a factor that a lot of people don’t consider. 

It is also no secret that athletes stick together on and off of the field. Because so much time spent together at practices and games, it becomes natural for that bond to remain outside of the team activities. In fact, in the high school jungle, having a close-knit group of friends from an activity outside of school can be a critical factor in mental health.  

Oftentimes, an outside perspective helps us to see things more clearly.  In the case of sports, my perspective as a non-athlete has led me to admire the discipline and positivity that student-athletes carry. Had I another chance, I now realize that I should have taken every opportunity to be on a team.