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The Long-Term Benefits Of Being On A Sports Team

Adrian Valacos

Jul 5, 2016

On my one-hour train ride to work this morning, I came across this very interesting video and felt motivated to write a short piece about.  It’s by a fantastic channel called Ted-Ed, from the guys who do Ted-Talks; and they have short 5-minute videos about riddles, science and other interesting topics.

There are loads of cool videos on their channel - I highly recommend the "how to spot a liar" video!

Today's video is about the longer-term benefits of playing sport.  

I found myself agreeing a lot with the information presented in this video and thought it worth a deeper dive.

Before we do dive in however, a little about me.  As a kid I was always more excited about the latest video game than about sports.  It didn't take much of an excuse for me to skip out on soccer or tennis practice and stay inside to play games.  I had a number of physical issues but nothing serious enough that I wasn't able to play; just annoying enough to discourage me.  Sometimes I regret being so lazy as a kid, because I now realise how significant the benefits of playing sport really are.

However, when I was a teenager, I decided to start taking exercise seriously by running laps and swimming.  Through perseverance and my thirst to be "not the last guy picked" I learnt to move past my laziness and hesitation.  

I realised that by practising, I would improve.  When I improved, the satisfaction I felt would taste sweeter.  It was hard-won and all the grind was suddenly worth it.  

Later on I started to do weights and boxing; and in my uni days my gaming became playing Starcraft, or CounterStrike and Dota with a team.  We played in tournaments and while we didn't have any major success, we had fun and those team members remain my best friends to this day.

Susan Zimmerman, the narrator of the video talks about the communal experience of being on a team, including: 

* Learning to trust your teammates and depend on others

* To both accept and offer help and 

* To work together on a common goal.  

Source: TED-Ed

This is extremely important and forms a huge basis of experiences in later life, where you'll constantly be faced with problems bigger than yourself and will have to work as a team to succeed.  If you can't trust people to work to their strengths, can't learn from those with more experience than you, and can't teach people who need your experience to grow, you'll drown alone beneath the weight of these problems, whether they be at work, in your personal life or in your community.

I work in an IT team and constantly liaise with multiple people across the company to create new systems or improve existing systems.  

As a parent I need to trust my wife and work with her to teach our kids these same lessons.  

As a member of our work soccer club I need to play defence and trust that people around me will score the goals while I save them.  

As a gamer I rely on my friends to tank for me or heal me (or I tank/heal for them) as we slay dragons, or evil robots, or simply shoot goals with huge metal balls using toy cars!

In almost any aspect of my day to day life I need to work with other people to get things done.  I learnt these lessons on the soccer field, in the swimming pool or on the tennis court.  I also learnt them online, playing Starcraft or Call of Duty or World of Warcraft.

Source: TED-Ed

In the video, Susan also talks about other more personal effects of sport:

* Training and routine forms a regular habit, which becomes a habit

* Higher self-esteem and confidence

* Training and dealing with defeat fosters a growth mindset - you improve through practice and perseverance

* Lower risk of depression 

Playing sport and training made me a more social, more open-minded and harder working person.  It allowed me to focus on my study when I needed to, to convert that knowledge and experience into a job and make life-long friends.

I encourage you, again, to watch the video, then go out and find a sport that you enjoy - the more social the better.  Finally practise, and get yourself into healthy habits

You will continue to reap the rewards long after leaving the playing field.


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