7 Reasons Why Being In Sports As A Child Is Important
At JAG we’ve always said that we measure our success as a coaches and managers not by the number banners we put on a wall or even the number of NCAA athletes, international level competitors or even Olympians our club produces, but instead by the quality of young adults we help families raise.
I know that we are not alone in this sentiment. I know this because when I get together with my friends from across the country and we start to reminisce about the kids in our clubs or those who grew up and out, the stories we tell seldom are about their gymnastics accomplishments.
Instead we swap stories about kids who are balancing gymnastics with a full slate of honors classes, kids who work part time to help their family who is struggling financially with their gymnastics fees or that kid who struggled mightily with a fear or an injury and finally overcame that impediment and is back training.
When we talk about our graduates it’s about these amazing young adults who are doing service programs like Teach for America or Doctors without Boarders, young adults who invite us to be part of their milestone events like engagements, weddings and the baptisms or bar/bat mitzvahs of their children and, of course, one of the sweetest moments of all: when a former athlete brings their child to come take class at our gym.
Then once in awhile we get a letter or a phone call that lets us know that our athletes understand this as well…that they get that the benefit of the time spent with us in the gym has little to do with the tricks, routines, medals and trophies and everything to do with the kind of person they will become.
I was lucky enough to get such a communication in the form of a blog post from a former athlete, Tani Rose Kageyama, who is now a junior in college. She graciously agreed to allow me to post her blog here, but here is a link to her original post and you might want to check out her other writing, as she is a talented young woman.
Tani’s words say it all:
7 Reasons Why Being In Sports As A Child Is Important
Being put into sports as a young child is one of the many stepping-stones that have propelled me to where I am today. You may not realize it, but a sport instills many great character traits and aspects in a human being, more than you would even believe possible. I started gymnastics from a very young age and not only has the sport itself molded me into the person I am, but Josephson’s Academy of Gymnastics is who I truly thank for giving me the opportunity to grow my wings. A sport is one of the greatest gifts I was given the opportunity to do because without that structure I would not be where I am today.
1. It teaches you the meaning of hard work.
Being in a sport has truly imprinted hard work into my life. While being in gymnastics I was taught young that if you wanted to reach your goal you needed to be conscientious and diligent with your time. If you really craved to learn that skill on the beam, then you needed to strive toward that and put all of your effort into perfecting that skill.
2. It teaches you how to work with a team.
Working with a team in any sport is an excellent model to learn how to work with other individuals. When working in any group there are many puzzle pieces, and working with other people you learn that as much as they may need your piece, you need their piece more. You all have something to bring to the table for your team to succeed, and without my team I wouldn’t have flourished at all.
3. It teaches you how to deal with failure and success.
No one enjoys failing, but everyone loves to succeed. I have failed many times in gymnastics, but if I had never failed I would never have achieved success. It taught me how to deal with being defeated, but it also made me treasure what I did accomplish. Not winning a competition was just a temporary setback because everything that I had given in that moment only pushed me and made me become more successful in the end.
4. It teaches you to learn how important practice is.
If anyone wanted to reach their target they needed to practice. Being in a sport and having to practice every single day to maybe even reach a smidge towards your goal is so much more rewarding knowing I put so much time and effort into it. If you wanted to get better, you needed to rehearse your skill until it was polished to perfection. If I had never practiced with my blood, sweat and tears put into it I probably wouldn’t have relished the moment of success.
5. It teaches you the meaning of sacrifice and commitment.
I missed many birthday parties, family events, school events and sleepovers as a child because I had a gymnastics competition the same weekend. I was unable to attend any of those functions because I had not only made a commitment to myself, but to my team. You cannot do everything, and those were just some aspects in my life that I had to sacrifice in order to focus on my gymnastics career. If you want to succeed you have to give up some things in your life, because every road to success has different hurdles and different end goals.
6. It teaches you respect.
While being in a sport it taught me a great deal about how to respect my elders. My coaches worked just as hard as me for me to reach my end goal. They did not have to sacrifice their time, be patient with me or be kind to me when I was frustrated with them. However, they did, and if it weren’t for gymnastics I would not respect my elders as much as I do now.
7. It teaches you to know your limits.
We all want to do everything and anything because we think that we can. Being in gymnastics has showed me that I cannot bite off more than I can chew. It taught me that I was not ready to perform an advanced skill because I had not practiced it and I was not at that level yet. I knew what my limits were, and if I had challenged them I could have been extremely hurt.
Each of those reasons has propelled me into the human being I am today. Those lessons not only were important to me in my gymnastics career, but have become even more valuable for me in my life. I wouldn’t have been able to apply any of those life lessons if it weren’t for gymnastics. Being in a sport as a child has made me more knowledgeable about life and has made me a better person.