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Finding The Right Sport May Save A Young Person

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Something happened today that confirmed the notion that I have long held that sports can be a very important (critical, even) component of a young persons life. In addition to all the known benefits of being involved in sports, like exercise, the learning of new skills, making friends, etc. there are also enormous benefits of rescuing young people who find themselves on the “outside” of things. No one doubts how difficult it is for young people to grow up these days and to try to make good choices with so many things pulling against them. It is tough to find yourself a loner with very little in common with most of the people that are in your midst. It is also great to be an individual and be your own unique self and not feel like you need to be a carbon copy of everyone else. However, it is doubtful that anyone enjoys the prospect of having no friends and no one to hang out with. After all, isn’t that an important part of being young?

The truth is that many young people are not very socially adept. They do not find it easy to engage others in conversation and often find themselves with very little common ground to those who would be considered their peers. This has proven for many, a very tough position to be in. A great many of the young people who find themselves as loners also have low self esteem and that has been proven to cause all kinds of problems in their lives.

Another truth is that many young people (or people of any age for that matter) do not have great athletic skills and would be unlikely to try out for mainstream sports such as football or basketball or perhaps cheerleading for the girls. That does not have to end their quest for a sport to participate in. There are dozens of different types of sporting activities that might be just the right fit for someone you know. It could turn out to be the very thing that could help them find their niche and with it a whole new set of friends and opportunities.

Now, back to my beginning. I ran into a friend today who has a son in the 9th grade at a nearby middle school. Learning has always been a challenge for him and he has developed a pretty low opinion of himself over the years as he has struggled to find his strengths. He was not one for team sports and felt he didn’t have what it took to make it in that arena. By chance, however, he happened to be on the school grounds one afternoon after classes had concluded and found himself intrigued watching several girls and guys participating in a long-jumping practice session. The coach noticed him and after the other kids had left, suggested he come and give it a try himself. On this particular day, for whatever reason, the young man decided that he would give it a try. To make a long story short, he was quite surprised at how far he could jump and became interested in pursuing this activity. That was 2 months ago and since then this young many has joined a team of youth who are improving their skills on such things as long-jumping, discus throw, high-jump, etc. He has found a “spot” for himself and his self esteem as well as his grades are showing it. His mother feels that this is saving her son from some very difficult problems that he might otherwise be facing.

This is not one of those “one in a million” kind of stories. It happens over and over for young people who desperately need to find an area in their lives where they can feel confident and able. Finding ways to help young people feel involved and worthwhile might be one of the very best things any of us can ever do.

Nancy Smith is one of the owners of RobbinsSports.com, an online retailer specializing in Baseball Uniforms and Gym Bags