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Why play team sports?

It was the last game of the season. The last time this basketball season that I’d sit beside my Grand’s other grandmother and we’d chitchat about the five young children and their parents we both love. Our 11-year old Grand knocked the ball out of his opponent’s hands and dribbled down the court toward his team’s goal. “Oh, I hope he hits the shot,” I said.

David threw the ball high. It bounced off the backboard and swished through the net. His sister, two years younger, stood and cheered as if her brother had scored the winning basket in the NCAA* championship game. David and his teammates ran back to the other end of the court to play defense. My Grand looked over his left shoulder and pointed to a teammate to move closer to the goal.

What was in the article I’d read a few days before? A list of the benefits of team sports. Confidence building. David had gained the confidence to steal the ball and risk dribbling for a layup. Something he didn’t do during the first games of the season.

Connect with his teammates. Were David and others in position on the court to play defense? On offense they signaled with nods and hand pointing. Sometimes they connected and successfully scored. Sometimes a pass went out of bounds.

Encourages family involvement. My Grand’s family – parents, grandparents, siblings – came together to support his team. To cheer the team on. To celebrate good plays and wins. To commiserate mistakes and losses.

Provides physical exercise. Practices with the team.   At home, shooting baskets and dribbling and playing pick-up with parents and siblings.

Develops relationships. With players and coaches. Children can form friendships as teammates that carry into adulthood.  And a coach, whether volunteer or paid, is always known as “coach.”

Contributes to stronger academics. It has been documented that children who play team sports are likely to excel in academics. Why? Do they learn to manage time? Are they required to achieve an academic standard to participate in sports?

Teaches respect. Respect for people of authority: referees, umpires, coaches. When the referee blows the whistle and calls a foul on a player, there’s no arguing with his call.   Respect for other players. The game ends. These young 5th and 6th grade boys form two single file lines. Opponents walk past each other with their hands in the air. High-fives just like those of basketball players in high stakes games.

I love team sports. I’ve watched my Grand grow as a ball player, as a person, from game one to the final game. And since he’s learned more about basketball, it’ll be more fun to watch televised games with him. Just in time for my favorite sports month!

Together we’ll take in March Madness, a whole month of NCAA basketball. And think of those college players’ rewards. Team players reap benefits and learn, even when they are no longer children.

*National Collegiate Athletic Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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