We know that playing sports can keep our kids physically fit, and can lower their risk of obesity, but Master Mikhail Kuns of Iron Dragon, in Middletown, reminds us that there are more, like "developing good manners." Here are a few more — and surprising — benefits as well.
1) Kids can learn respect and good old fashioned common courtesy. Sometimes along with athletic ability and self-esteem, they can pick up respect. “We teach them respect for authority, for the place of learning, and between student and instructor, and student to student,” says Kuns. He adds that it’s part of the curriculum, and their creed the students learn; “I will develop myself in a positive manner...” is the first line of their creeds.
2) Sports help kids stay focused. “One of the benefits, especially for our inner city children, is that sports keep them off the street,” said Elaine Canella, president of the Hudson Valley Youth Soccer League in Newburgh. “We have players on scholarship and they have to report to us in regard to their academic performance.”
3) Camaraderie often extends beyond the playing field. “They gain valuable experience being connected to not just the schools, but the community at large and collaborating with other agencies in the City,” said David Coates, Middletown City School District director of physical education, health and athletics. This can be satisfying and give kids a sense of pride.
4) Performance on the field often translates into strong academic performance as well. “Studies indicate if kids are involved in athletics, they tend to perform better in the classroom,” said Coates. You need discipline to keep grades up which is a big component of the sports world.
5) Social connections are enriched. “Kids form friendships and bonds with teammates and learn to work with others,” said Austin Profepa, manager at Anaconda Sports, Inc. in Poughkeepsie.
6) Kids who participate in sports can get a better handle on stress. “It brings kids to understand oneness with nature and calming down to see life as it is,” said Bennett. Some studies show that kids who play sports are happier, but parental support is essential.
Jamie Lober writes on pediatric health topics and women’s issues.