The Importance of Athletics

Claire Hein, Staff Writer

Across the world, people of all ages participate in sports. Whether it is highly competitive, with friends and family, or for fun on a recreational team. The history of sports stretches back to the ancient world where sports were invented as a form of ritual, preparation for warfare, and purely entertainment. With any kind of hobby, the brain or body is challenged and a person is motivated to improve at a certain craft. Sports challenge individuals both physically and mentally, and can help shape them into a well-rounded being by teaching valuable skills and life lessons. Participating in sports from a young age amplifies the benefits of sports and is great for a developing child.

One of the first things to understand about sports is the physical effect they can have on a person. The body in general needs physical movement daily to keep the heart pumping and body healthy. According to the Aspen Project Play, exercise helps “build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints; helping control weight and reduce fat; and preventing or delaying the development of high blood pressure.” Being an intense form of exercise, sports can reduce certain health risks furthermore. The training, practicing, and game performance of sports trains the body’s muscles for success in the specific sport and keeps the body in great shape. Cross training is a popular thing for athletes to do while participating in a sport. This is when athletes train in a different sport, and do different forms of exercise like strength training (weight lifting), aerobic training (running or swimming), and balance training (yoga or physical therapy). Sophomore and student athlete Cal Marshall states that “playing sports makes me stronger and keeps me in shape.” Physical activity, generally speaking, is very vital for everyone, but sports help people receive the most physical benefits and well-rounded health. However, not everyone has a liking for sports, and not participating in sports does not mean someone is unhealthy. A balance of different forms of exercise will give a person similar benefits as sports do. The process of exercise is when adrenaline levels rise, the heart begins beating faster, and capillaries in the muscles open wider to increase blood flow. Specifically in children, as their bodies are being developed, exercise improves their coordination, and helps develop a good physical foundation for their bones as well as muscle growth. Starting sports from a young age not only keeps the child at a healthy body weight, but reduces the risk of them developing a cardiovascular disease or a bone disease, like osteoporosis, for example. 

Additionally, sports have many psychological benefits on the brain. For example, Carleton Athletics states, “Exercise has also been found to relieve stress, depression and anxiety. Although often overlooked, children experience these emotions just as adults do and exercise is a great way to help combat these feelings.” Sports can be a place for people to relieve their stress because by physically working hard, the body releases endorphins, the chemical that relieves stress and pain. When talking about soccer, senior Tanner Ross says, “It can take my mind off of school or personal stress.” Many positive emotions like happiness and pride are brought up during sports, like when a person makes a great play or wins a game. Although there are few individual participation sports like boxing, diving, and wrestling, a big appeal of sports is the team aspect. A sport can be a lot more fun if it is being played with friends or people who one gets along with. For example, junior Nil Turkmenilli states that “playing volleyball makes me happy especially because I get to do it with my friends.” Sports help build relationships between players, and these relationships can grow really strong as teammates are always challenging each other, working together, and relying on each other. Playing a sport helps build character and teach essential life skills. According to, “Participation in sport improves children’s educational attainment and skills development including empowerment, leadership and self-esteem.” Other skills that sports can help teach are commitment, communication, responsibility, time management, and respect or sportsmanship. Athletes have to teach their brain the fundamentals of the sport, and continue adding new skills and information as they play. 

Negative emotions can be brought up in sports as well, like frustration when an athlete is not improving as much as they wish they were, or disappointment after losing a game. Sports can create an unhealthy balance in a person’s life. It can take away from school work, put too much pressure on a player for various reasons, and even unmask other psychological issues like anxiety and depression. An athlete can become burned out of a sport, and according to freshman Sawyer Frye it might happen that “you simply don’t enjoy the sport anymore.” Overall, sports have more positive effects on people than negative effects by far. A study on sports and child development by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, states, “We find positive and robust effects on children’s school performance and peer relations.” Participation in sports engages the brain and helps build more connections between nerves within the brain. Problem solving skills are developed in sports as the game is unpredictable, and athletes have to think on the spot for the team’s best interest. Although sports can take up an overwhelming amount of time, the schedule and commitments actually can improve a person’s time management. Especially student athletes, who have a lot on their plate to balance.

 Athletics are a great form of exercise and entertainment all over the world, and include so many health benefits physically and mentally. Sports help children develop in many ways, and help shape them into well-rounded, skillful individuals.