Youth sports offer incredible opportunities

Wayne Beyer

Youth sports teach many life values and lifelong lessons. We appreciate parents who understand the importance of nurturing a balanced life and get their children involved. Consider some of the following.

Hard work. It is no secret that successful athletes work hard. When the Wahpeton 15 Babe Ruth baseball team wins back-to-back state championships, much of it can be attributed to devoted practice over several years. Hard work is about the best advice you can offer to young people who are considering their lifelong professions.

Positive attitude. All of us have a choice with every experience. A glass half full of water is actually completely full – half water and half air. Sports teach you to look at the good side of things.

Physical fitness. Our physical health is integral to living a balanced life. Children should be physically active an hour a day and that should continue to a half hour a day as an adult. Get in the habit of exercising. Put it in your schedule.

Fun. Life is too short not to enjoy living a happy life. It is fun to play sports like golf, hockey, basketball, baseball, football and soccer. Like children who look forward to playing sports, that can carry over to adults and lifelong sports. Some sports like tennis may evolve into sports like Pickleball.

Respect. Young athletes learn the importance of respecting their coaches. As we grow up and have jobs, that same respect works superbly with supervisors. Appreciate the role of sports officials. They are integral to youth sports and try their best to manage the rules of the game. In life, this will apply to government officials and law enforcement officers, as examples.

Teamwork. Sports will teach you the hard way that your team is often as strong as your weakest link. Teams that play together well, like a shortstop-2nd baseman combination turning a double play, will succeed more. The same thing happens in an office setting when all the staff work together well towards the same goals. Always do the right thing, even when it would be easier to look the other way. Teams throughout your life will know you have their back.

Patience. Athletes often have to work hard for many years before they become proficient. Track athletes who aspire to be successful long distance runners know their long journey starts with a single step. I have learned the same applies to running marathons.

Sportsmanship. Youth sports teaches athletes to be good sports whether they win or lose. Respect your opponents. Life is full of wins and losses. I admire athletes who have the same demeanor whether they win or lose. Act like you’ve been there when you win. When Walter Payton scored one of many touchdowns for the Chicago Bears, he would calmly hand the football to a referee. Been there, done that was his mantra. Be humble when you succeed and you will gain the respect of others.

Best effort. Applaud your children any time they have done their best with a sports skill. That is really the most we can expect out of any athlete. Positive affirmation is critical to a successful parent-child relationship. Best effort carries over to life. We all have the responsibility to do the best we can in every life endeavor as a parent, friend, co-worker, spouse, etc.

Dreams. Our visions can come true with best effort. Write down realistic goals. Sports often provide opportunities for realizing dreams. It certainly came true last year when our local 14 year-old baseball team advanced to the World Series. Wow!

Resilience. Youth sports teach you to bounce back. We will all make mistakes. What is important is to learn from them. If you don’t shoot free throws well, keep practicing. The same is true of our professions. We learn quickly that there are always better ways of doing things. Keep learning and never give up.

Friendship. Youth sports teammates are often your best friends forever and you will never forget them. Our social and mental health is healthier when we can rely on our friends for support, guidance, stability and quality leisure time. Relish the friends you gain through youth sports. And be that friend to others.

Youth sports offer incredible opportunities. Consider a diversity of them for your children.

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