“What’s your favorite sport?”
Kids ask me this when I visit their schools to talk about how I write my sports books and KidsPost columns.
I usually answer that I like to watch baseball and play golf. Maybe I should change my answer. Every sport is good for different reasons — especially for kids.
Football: I know football is rough and kids can get hurt, but it’s a real team sport. Every player has to do his job or the play won’t work. Do your job. That’s an important lesson.
Baseball/softball: Some parents and kids think these games are too slow. But baseball and softball teach kids to pay attention until called upon. You may be standing out in right field, but you have to be ready when the ball comes to you.
These games also teach kids how to deal with failure. Even the greatest hitter makes an out most of the time.
Soccer: This low-scoring game teaches kids they have to work really hard to score just one goal. That’s another good lesson because the most important things in life never come easy.
Lacrosse/basketball: Here are two sports that are great for getting kids into tiptop condition. Players are running and moving from start to finish. There’s no way you can play these games without being in good shape.
All the sports described above are team sports. So each one teaches kids how to be part of a group and get along with other players and personalities. That’s an important skill to learn no matter what you do in life.
Individual sports teach important lessons, too. Let’s take a look at some.
Tennis: A simple sport — all you need is one ball, one racket and one opponent. This game teaches the key lesson that you should never give up on a point. And it’s a game you can play for your whole life.
Golf: Here’s a game that teaches kids manners (wait your turn, be quiet when others are hitting) as well as the discipline to forget bad shots and bad bounces. Ben Hogan, a champion golfer, was once asked what was the most important shot in golf. “The next one,” he replied.
Swimming: This isn’t my favorite, but I have to admit it’s great for kids. Swimming teaches the rewards of hard work. The more kids practice, the lower their race times get. And in swimming you can feel like a winner if you post a personal best even if you lose the race.
Lots of the sports are terrific for kids (and I haven’t even mentioned running, rowing, hockey or a bunch of others).
So give them all a try. You might learn something. Or find a new favorite.