It’s Not Whether You Win or Lose, it’s “IF” You Play

 In Blog

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to stand in the rain for four hours at a CYO Cross Country meet. For those of you not familiar, CYO is the Catholic Youth Organization which basically organizes the sports that Catholic grade school children participate in.

Two of my children run XC, one is super fast, and the other is super slow, like his mother. And as I stood in the rain, watching hundreds of kids run their 1.5 or 2 miles races, I was suddenly reminded why I love what I do – working for a company that helps high school sports. Sports are a crucial part of every student-athletes life, if they are able to participate, they should.

My youngest runner was miserable when we got to the course, crying that he didn’t want to run in the rain, he wanted to go home. He was cold and muddy and this wasn’t fun. Until, until he saw his teammates and his face wore the biggest smile! The camaraderie he has developed with his teammates is awesome and one of the big reasons I encourage all of my children to participate in sports.
By the end of my son’s race, he and his best friend were drenched, and covered in mud, but with HUGE smiles on their faces. I thought to myself, I hope that he decides to continue to participate in sports as he gets older (he’s only in 4th grade now).

In my opinion, high school sports are a must for anyone that is able to participate. Not only for the obvious reasons like staying fit and being healthy, but because they teach you life skills. They teach you that if you are one of the better athletes, you can be a leader to your teammates. You can set an example for the younger athletes. They teach you even if you are amongst the slowest; you are still a valued member of the team. Sports teach you how to handle stress, they teach you how to strategize, how to work with others. The benefits go on and on.

I am probably preaching to the choir when I say this, but research shows that children that participate in high school sports are more successful in life. They are four times more likely to go to college than their peers; they are more likely to get good grades in school, are less likely to drop out of school.

The benefit to female athletes is even greater. According to an article by Tara Parker-Pope in the (New York Times, 2/16/2010), research shows that sports participation brings many benefits, including lower teenage pregnancy rates, better grades and higher self esteem. Six years after the enactment of Title IX, which require schools and colleges receiving federal money to provide the same opportunities for girls as they did for boys, participation in sports for girls grew from 4% to 25%. Research conducted by Betsey Stevenson an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, showed that sports participation had a direct effect on women’s education and employment. There was a 20% increase in women’s education and a 40% rise in employment.

It seems like a no brainer to me. So what do you do if you are a parent? Encourage your children at a young age to participate in sports. Make it fun, don’t push them, or they may burn out. But most of all be an example to them. Get out there and run a mile, play a game of basketball, play a round of golf.

Hopefully I’ve done a good job with my own children. As I ran a marathon last spring, I was struggling early in the race. I always carry my cell phone with me, and I called the house to say I was contemplating quitting, and my husband might need to pick me up. My 11 year old daughter answered the phone. Her response when I told her I was thinking about quitting? “No mommy, you can’t quit, you have to keep going!” and she hung up on me. Easy for her to say, she’s the fast runner in the family! I met her at the finish line.

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Jackie Keim

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Jackie Keim has been with Home Team Marketing for four years as the Director of Marketing and PR. Over the past twenty five years, she has worked in marketing and PR in the sports and entertainment industries with several organizations including the Cleveland Browns, Verizon Wireless, Blossom Music Center and Sea World.
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