As a father of a 5 year old and a 7 year old, this is my first summer watching my boys play team sports. They played T Ball earlier in the summer and they play flag football now. Its great that they are able to play on the same team for logistics, but I'm sure that ends in the next couple of years. I've watched our boys take a lot from their team sports experience and I'd like to share with other parents what I've seen:
10. Teaches kids to "be on time" - both coaching staffs were very adamant that practice started at a certain time and held all kids and parents accountable. As the seasons progress, I've noticed our boys getting themselves ready for practice at the appropriate time.
9. Builds friendships - This is an easy one as we've seen our boys make lots of new friends, attend birthday parties, and basically just smile when they see their friends outside of practice/games.
8. Hand/Eye Coordination - Too many children are perfecting their hand/eye coordination by means of Xbox and Wii. Simple activities such as throwing a ball, catching a ball, and hitting a baseball do wonders for motor skills.
7. Creates self pride - When our kids got their jerseys with their own name on the back, the smile on their face was unforgettable. They really felt important and it created confidence.
6. Teaches kids that bullying is unacceptable - In both football and baseball this season, there were a few cases of some of the "alpha players" trying to assert themselves at the expense of the younger/smaller players. Both coaching staffs immediately addressed this with both the kids and the parents and the problem went away. Bullying is a terrible problem in schools and the more kids that can be turned off this path at an early age, the better.
5. Coaches are more like teachers than parents are. - As much as we try, we always see our children in a different light as an outsider....and that's a good thing. Coaches, like teachers tend to treat the kids equally and hold them all accountable for their actions and responsibilities.
4. Kids are learning Math and don't even realize it! - For all of you former football players out there, you'll likely remember that each "hole" (gap between lineman) is assigned a number telling the running back where to run the ball and the rest of the team how to block a play. As the kids learned this, I watched several kindergarten level students now able to count by 2's as that is the way the football numbering system works. Also, when coaches teach defensive players to run at an angle where the player with the ball is going to be, not where he is at....kids are getting introduced to geometry. As per my earlier blog entry...physics is everywhere as well!
3. Respecting elders - Talking back and yelling at coaches and other parents is not tolerated in most team sport environments and at the young ages of the players, this tends to stick with them away from the game field.
2. Teamwork - Team sports are a great way to teach kids how to work together for a common goal. Specifically, our kid's football coach requires all kids to run their laps as a group (emphasizing that this is not a race, but rather teaching them to do things together) and has them chant and do their warmups together as a group.
1. Exercise - Above all else, in the video game/tv dominated world we live in, I'm elated watching my kids get a couple hours of outside activity including cardio work, stretching, fun games, agility tasks, etc. Remember when we used to spend every summer day outside? This is a great way to show our kids what was great about our childhood and keep them in shape at the same time.
I'd love to hear others stories and reasons for or against team sports!