Op-Ed: Why Kids Should Play Sports Competitively

In a culture obsessed with technology and second place trophies, I believe all children should play sports, and they should do so with the intent of winning. Sound cutthroat? Maybe. But hear me out. 

“Play” is an essential part of the human experience. In fact, in his New York Times best-selling book “Essentialism,” Greg McKeown says, “When we play, we are engaged in the purest expression of our humanity, the truest expression of our individuality. Is it any wonder that often the times we feel most alive, those that make up our best memories, are moments of play?” 

The simple act of playing, connecting with our inner child, is a lost art as we live in an over-worked generation that is glued to screens. Children are spending more time on TikTok than they are with friends and a poll from the National Alliance for Sports said that roughly 70 percent of children stop playing sports by the age of 13. 

Engaging in sports allows kids to exercise, make new friendships, learn teamwork, gain confidence, and further self-expression. While playing in any form is beneficial to all, children should also learn how to win and lose. 

The reality that not everybody will win is an important lesson to learn early on. There will always be someone more talented and if children do not learn this in their early years, they will discover the harsh truth a little too late. When kids are taught that they can prevail after failure, they display increased self-esteem and motivation. However, if they believe losing is unimaginable, they will lack the determination to prevail amid trials. 

Children do not need video games and participation ribbons; they need old-fashioned play and reality.

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