Do kids love sports?

Many do. Or at least seem to.

As a strong believer in sports, I’m re-examining just what made me (and makes me) so passionate about them.

First observation:

Kids don’t love sports in a vacuum. When a kid has a bad coach, or their team is mean to them, they often stop playing the sport or become less enthusiastic. Understandably so.

Second observation:

Kids love friends and belonging. So does everyone. Sports provide that feeling for countless young people.

Third observation:

Winning is fun. Being competent is fun. Losing is not fun. Sports encourage competence, winning and the avoidance of loss at all costs. Winning makes us feel proud, and sometimes, superior. These are powerful feelings, especially when strongly encouraged by parents and family.

Fourth observation:

Exercise is fun and rewarding in itself.

Taking all these things into consideration, sports are a healthy way to meet people, to stay fit and to conform to many social norms. The general nature of competition and the “us vs. them” mentality feels like a negative byproduct that is created by innate feelings of insecurity linked to losing, or being thought of as lesser. Winning is fun when you know you’ve worked hard and done well. Boasting and feeling superior is the unhealthy extreme side of that same coin.

Overall, I think kids like sports to varying degrees. As someone who played 12 seasons of sports in high school, the sport was often a vehicle for the friends, the belonging and the physical activity. In another life, boy scouts could have filled the same void. Same with horseback riding or dance.

I think what’s important to recognize here is that all the other stuff, the friends, the coaches, the parental support etc… is just as important, if not more important than the actual game play. A love of sport and physical activity is much more important than the quality of your team of eight year olds. It’s not worth beating the passion out of a kid over a loss in the 3rd grade league.

Love play, love self improvement and love the team. The rest will come.