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It is a well-worn idea that sports help make kids into team players, and teaches them some of life’s most important lesson. Here are just a few of those time-honored truths, and what they can teach your kids today.

The Value of Teamwork

No one makes it to the top by themselves in life, and the same is true in sports. Even in individual sports, individual success is typically the result not just of great singular athletic success but of all the assistance given to that athlete by their trainers, coaches, and of course, their parents. What’s more, team sports are entirely built around the idea that you cannot succeed alone. We all need to practice teamwork, and sports make for some of its best (and most fun) practical applications.

The Individual and the Group

It’s a common refrain that “there’s no ‘I in team,” and a common retort that, if you jumble the letters around, there is a “me.” Both philosophies have their place. As stated, teamwork is essential. That said, being part of a group should never quash who you are as an individual.

On the contrary, at their best, sports can highlight the individual within the group. For example, pitchers and batters in baseball stand out as individuals who still require the help of their team to win.

How to Handle Victory and Defeat

In his famous poem “If” Rudyard Kipling describes how in facing “Triumph and Disaster,” we must “treat those two impostors just the same.” It’s a good lesson for children to learn, and one sports teaches as well as anything else in childhood. Just because they’re suffering through a bad slump doesn’t mean they won’t break out of it and score the next game, and just because they’re on top doesn’t mean they should get too cocky. Life requires moderation, balance, and perspective, and sports introduces children to all three of these precepts.

Sports are not only some of the most fun pastimes for children to pursue, but can likewise teach them some of life’s most important lessons in palatable ways.