One sunny afternoon, in mid June before one little league game, my dad decided to help me with my hitting. I trudged out to the backyard with the sun beating down on my back, and my dad began pitching to me. I swung as hard as I could but continually missed. My dad suggested that I try and keep my eye on the ball and choke up on the bat. The next pitch I hit a line drive straight at my dad’s face. The ball nailed him in the eye, and he began bleeding profusely until my mom rushed out to help. I was only seven years old at the time, but that seemingly insignificant event in my life has helped shape me not only as an athlete but also as a person.
That is why I believe in the positive influence of youth sports.
Athletics have always been a part of my life. One of the first lessons I learned as an athlete was that practice makes perfect, and it is true, to a certain extent. Playing any sport requires not only a lot of effort and dedication, but also practice. When I first learned to play baseball I struggled. I struck out, couldn’t catch the ball, and somehow messed up every situation I put myself into. Practicing helped lead to my success.
I also learned that support and encouragement are essential parts of youth sports. Having been drafted by a major league baseball team, my dad was more bothered than I. However, my dad encouraged me after every game and practice. Knowing that my dad’s encouragement helped put me on the road to success, I learned the importance of supporting my teammates whatever the situation. I also realized the importance of being selfless, and working together as a team, instead of focusing on personal achievements.
Today, I run track, a sport that is focused more on an individual than it is on the team. I know it would be much easier for me not to care about the success of my team or my other teammates, and only focus on my goals and accomplishments. However, having competed in “true” team sports as a child, I understand that the success of my team is so much more significant that my personal achievements.
Furthermore, I learned that failure comes along with success. If everything came easily to me, I would not appreciate nor take pride in my accomplishments as much. Failure also taught me the importance of humility, and that arrogance shows weakness, not strength. Lastly, I learned to have fun. There is no greater feeling when my team is ahead by twenty points going into the fourth quarter, and I have nothing at all to worry about. Success, failure, triumph and disappointment are part of all aspects of life. As far-fetched as it may seem, playing sports as a child taught me how to cope with every curve ball life throws at me.
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