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Does youth sports really shape character? What children get from sports depends on adults

Although there is no evidence, there are theories and testimonies put forward by philosophers, child development experts, and ordinary adults who claim that sports shaped their lives.

“My experience in high school sports helped me grow into a respectable adult,” Maggie Lynch, now 24, explained in an email.

“I learned to never quit, to ignore the noise,” says Aidan Coney, a recent college graduate who played high school football and lacrosse.

Jackie Young, 27, says playing volleyball, softball and basketball as a teenager taught her how to work with others and understand collective responsibility. (Classroom group projects have resonated in a different way.

Memory may not be a controlled experiment, but the amount and intensity of such reports is astonishing. Indeed, every adult who grew up and played sports seems to be able to instantly revive the stories from the stadium or team bus that made an impact.

Children can grow from sports another method, that too. Competitive sports environments require you to engage with powerful emotions in yourself and others.eventually they learn to manage The anger, sadness, embarrassment, and joy that the performance evokes. Children can also learn how to control aggression in a healthy sports environment. After all, a game pits one team or individual against another team or individual, and the goal during that competition is to beat the opponent, aggressively if necessary. However, once the contest is over, everyone turns back to being human again. Perhaps even friends. Aggression must be shut down. Weissbourd writes: Everything—we irrationally invent enemies. “

With the right leadership, sports can also confer other moral virtues, such as valuing opponents’ skill, tolerating weaker players’ mistakes, and respecting imperfect referees. This kind of “demanding morality” builds empathy. Children learn that their feelings, no matter how passionate they are, are not their first priority.

Professor of Philosophy Drew Hyland He argues that a serious commitment to sport can trigger two profound inner developments: “experiences of deep passionate commitment and self-awareness.” Hyland recounts his time playing basketball and how it had a profound effect on him. “No school or college education experience has led me to self-awareness more than a basketball experience. A course that has taught me more about my abilities, my limitations, where I was willing to compromise, and where I am.” And there was no classroom, I would take my position.

One of the clearest examples of self-awareness gained through sport is Mark Edmanson, an English professor at UVA and a former high school soccer him 2012 essay In The Chronicle of High Education’s Sport and Character, Edmundson explores how playing football fostered the kind of moral growth that warrior communities value.

Physically unimpressive – “I was buttery soft around my waist, short-sighted, not particularly fast, and not nimble at all” – Edmundson said, nevertheless, at Dog Day in Summer. Despite rigorous double practices and regular beatdowns, he had the will to stick with the sport.By Coach. Falling short of all expectations, he outlasted more talented athletes and earned a measure of self-esteem.

He also overcame the self-consciousness that plagued him and learned to evaluate himself by his own inner standards rather than those imposed on him by others. All it took was regular practice, daily hard drills.

But there were also rotten lessons. Organized violence every day made him more brutal. Given the hierarchical nature of the sport, he became more interested in power and domination over others. I realized that it would be difficult to let go. Adults—it never really goes away. And I could see how the culture he lived in was actively homophobic, obsessed with physical superiority, and consequently hostile to the value of kindness.

Several studies confirm Edmundson’s experience. Children who play wrestling and soccer 40% more likely to use violence outside of sports than their non-athletic peers. “Players are encouraged to engage in violence outside of sports because they are rewarded for engaging in violence within sports,” he said. Derek Krieger, conducted research.a study A study of 1600 male high school athletes found that football and basketball players were twice as likely to abuse female dating partners as athletes in other sports.Most Studies of Alcohol Use in High School Athletes indicates a positive relationship However, it is not clear that one “causes” the other. This association is particularly strong in high-income regions.

We bring our kids to the field for the same reasons our parents do. Because we believe that sports build character. But evidence is lacking, and the environments in which children play today tend the opposite. I’m here. “Sports are becoming more intense and competitive between children and parents,” he said.

“Some kids survive the system because they participated in other activities,” he added.

As far as consensus on the impact of sport on character is concerned, it seems that: What children glean from athletics depends entirely on a changing and intricately intertwined set of variables. increase. Community values, parents’ attitudes towards sport, coaches’ attitudes and methods, children’s own dispositions and training, and a myriad of other intangibles determine what children learn from athletics. Sport itself is an empty vessel, steeped in the meaning we attach to it.

Author Linda Flanagan
Author Linda Flanagan (USA), New York, NY March 21, 2022. Photo © Beowulf Sheehan