“Sports do not build character. They reveal it,” said John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach. Playing sports not only provides physical activity, but also other positive benefits. This is especially true for children. A well-structured and organized youth program will provide benefits and positive experiences for young athletes. While children are having fun participating in sports they are also building character, learning to work as a team, and playing fairly. Most people think the only benefits of sports are physical. Sports are more than just developing hand-eye coordination and burning calories, youth sports provide many developmental benefits, physical benefits, and psychological benefits. In addition to improved physical health, sports play a positive role in the development of youth. Studies show that the five “Cs”—competence, confidence, connections, character, and caring—develop positively through the participation in sports at a young age (Luxbacher 2). Each one of the five “Cs” are important components of youth development. The skills that are learned through playing sports, such as the discipline of training, learning teamwork and following the leadership of coaches provide athletes with lifelong skills. Important lifelong skills also include goal setting, time management, the value of planning ahead, honesty, respect, and an appreciation for diversity (Wood 3). At a young age, sports help teach youth how to handle adversity by showing them it is acceptable to make a mistake. Similarly, skills for handling both success and failure cannot be taught they must be experienced. Children experience these by both winning and losing. Studies show that children participating in a sport, when compared to children who do not participate in a sport, display higher grades, greater confidence and self esteem, greater connections with school, stronger peer relationships, and more restraint in avoiding risky behavior (Wood 1). Data also shows that high school...
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