The Lessons Sports Teach
By Joe Ulm
The way I grew up, responsibility was earned; little bits of trust given to me by mom and dad one piece at a time. I remember that first warm summer evening before my 5th grade year when mom let me hang out with friends after the streetlights were on. Then there was the time dad showed me how to mow the lawn and then trusted me to mow the hill on the side of the house. The time my aunt asked if I would babysit my younger cousins…and, of course, that incredible day when I got my driver’s license. Now that was a day! I turned 16 years old and got my driver’s license all in one day. I think I grew 10” inches taller that day (at least that’s the way I felt).
Of course, I needed wheels to go along with my license so I got a job bagging groceries at Kohls. Wait, I need insurance, too? Who knew?! I worked for 5 weeks straight, probably bagging thousands of dollars in groceries so I could earn enough to buy this awesome, $150 car. You should have seen it – it was SO sweet! It burned oil almost as quickly as it burned gas, but I didn’t care – I loved that car. I had wheels and I had earned them all on my own. It was then that I first began to understand the relationship between my actions, the benefits I reaped from them, the problems I created, and the responsibilities that came along with everything.
It’s different now. Today. Technology has changed the game. Now kids have so many more ways to learn this lesson. Along with these amazing technologies comes a world of opportunity to learn things the hard way, too. No guard rail, everything just a click or a swipe away, be careful because it’s a long way down.
It’s another reason why youth sports, clubs, and other youth organizations play a such critical in the development of our kids. Because whether we like it or not, sports teach. Sure, what they teach depends on who’s attending to the lessons. But that’s good news because we have a say in who attends the lessons; who teaches our kids to do the right things, who shows them the right way. And if we do it right, it will even shorten the fall a bit when they make mistakes.