The good life lessons from sports

By General Education Advice

In my last post, I pointed out the challenges that excessive time playing sports creates for our Connecticut youth.  But, the truth is, I am a recovering sports fanatic.  Moreover, I do think that athletics creates opportunities for learning.

Hard Knocks is an HBO documentary show on preseason NFL training camp.  Each year a different team is focused.  I recommend watching the show with your teenagers if they are interested in sports.   I’ll suggest 15 and older because the language is “colorful”.

Several lessons come through on every show.

1.)  Hard work is the key to success

I love that the show spends a significant amount of time focused on training.  Most teens only see the glory of playing before packed stadiums.  Hard Knocks shows the wind sprints, weight lifting, and practice drills.

Students can see that glory comes only after hard work.

2.) Not everyone gets a ribbon

Our schools, our communities, and parents-at-large have done a very good job at deflating the ugliness of competition.  I’m all for inclusiveness, building self-esteem, and lowering the intensity of crazed youth sports’ coaches.

But many teens do not seem to understand that they can’t simply “sign up” to make the team or get into college or get a job. Seeing top athletes cut from the team illustrates the reality of the world.

When I started this work years ago, I felt terrible whenever I had to be the bearer of tough news to the student who thought he could just walk into a top college.  I still feel badly but now I also wonder how the parents never explained that getting Bs is not sufficient for Yale.

3.) Dealing with criticism is part of becoming a man (and woman but the show only has men!)

Watching the coaches chew out players (again – language warning!) is great for several reasons.

First, you’ll have a shared laugh.  Some of the insults and the lectures are unintentionally hilarious.

Second, your children will see how men learn to deal with criticism.

Third, and most importantly, you’ll look far nicer in comparison!