5.29.2015

A Few Reasons to Play Sports That Have Nothing to do with Winning and Losing

*Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post


With so many mixed messages from adults, there is little wonder that kids grow up so confused about so many things. Sports is a perfect example of one of our favorite mixed messages: “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose. It’s how you play the game.” That was said to players by great coaches exactly never times. What coaches want from their players is a win. A coach’s job depends on wins and championships.

In the backyard, the focus is on fun and entertainment, at least, it starts out that way. Then, someone says, “Let’s play for points”. The moment a system of measurement enters the game, it is about more than fun. The higher up you go from Little League to Pro, it most certainly matters whether you win or lose.

That is why it is vital that parents get in front of this competitive urge before it becomes the only context for sporting activities. There are other motivations with equally high evolutionary value. If winning was the only reason to play the game, then there would be no reason for the vast majority of people to ever play. While winning is a not unpleasant outcome, here are a few other reasons to put on the big, padded glove:

Playing Is Inclusive 

There was a time when sports was treated like an elitist activity for physically talented, male children of a certain race. Thankfully, now, we know better. Sports is for everyone. One of the best things about it is that it provides group activity for the least physically talented, most shy and awkward among us. Few are too uncoordinated to find some sport they can enjoy. People in wheelchairs find sporting outlets suitable for their condition.

Baseball used to be one of those exclusive sports. Now look at it. We have a variety of leagues and variations on the game. Softball is a more accessible variant requiring slightly different equipment. There was a time when there was less need for variety in equipment such as gloves.


Today, there is a large selection of gloves to choose from. Regardless of age, gender, or preference, there is a glove for everyone. Giving your nerdy little sister a chance to hit the ball and run the bases for the first time is worth a lot more than winning. It’s priceless.

Playing Is Healthy 

Number 8 of its 15 surprising facts about world-class athletes, StrengthPlanet.com says:
          
The average world class athlete retires from his sport at the age of 33. Incredibly, the average NFL    player is retired by the age of 28, the average world class wrestler by 24, and the average elite gymnast by 19. 

In a realm where mid-thirties is considered old, there must be some other motivation besides winning, for so many people to get out and shoot a few hoops with friends. These days, the main reason is likely health. Almost universally, doctors proscribe activity to the unhealthy, and advise their healthier patients to stay active.

Play Is Fun 

By the way, playing sports is fun. That’s why they call it playing. When it stops being fun, it’s just work, or masochism. It is not just fun; it’s the best kind of fun. It is all inclusive, team-building, health-promoting fun. It is the kind of fun that brings people together across lines of sexual preference, race, creed, age, and even personality. So get out there. Find a ball. And play it for all it’s worth.

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