Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Why Team Sports are Important for Personal Development

It used to be that a man learned manhood through competition. You might be thinking, "hey, people still compete." That is correct. But I'm talking about competition at its essence: for survival. If you grew up in the Middle Ages, or the age of Revolution in Europe, or the Wild West, you competed to live. The closest thing most American men have to this reality is located on a court or field. For most, sports has replaced war as the mode of competition.

This blog might seem a bit negative towards sports. After all, past competition involved trying to save one's life. Nowadays, we try to save a ball from going into a net. The two don't really compare. But contrary to what you might be thinking, oh blog reader, I am actually favorably disposed to sports. Sports, especially team sports, develop character. And thanks to the nature of American society, being definitely non-war oriented, sports provide a unique opportunity to learn about teamwork, discipline, conflict management, obedience to authority, having fun appropriately, and much more. Today, we'll look super briefly at teamwork.

It is natural for people to be both individualistic and team-oriented. Isn't that interesting? There is a part of us that wants to do its own thing. We want personal accomplishment. We want to achieve. We want to show people that we can make things happen. We start our own businesses, make our own concoctions, and, ahem, write our own blogs. We like all this. We express ourselves, experience our own sense of success, and generally derive enjoyment from doing things without any help. Yet there is a part of us that loves working with others, that doesn't feel complete until we have the opportunity to do so. Thus, we cook with other people, we go into business with other people, and even start blogs together (see Together for the Gospel). We want to work together. We don't want to be alone, and achieve alone. We want to share in something greater than little old us. How joyful it is to be part of something large, and see it succeed. There's no feeling quite like it. Sports affords us that opportunity. Tomorrow, we'll look more at that way in which athletic teamwork uniquely fulfills and helps us.


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