The competitive athletes. When the main purpose of

The concept that participation in youth sports shapes character
and demonstrates values arose in the nineteenth century. During this time, it
was noticed that partaking in athletics provided individuals with the
discipline necessary achieve success and be a leader as an adult (Camire
and Trudel, 2010).
Physical activity and team sports were thought to be a social experience that effectively
influenced attitudes and values. The fundamental values that are introduced to
young people through sport include; a sense of fairness, humility, respect,
responsibility and discipline.  My family
values athletics and these objectives were introduced to me at a young age and
held highly throughout my development and childhood.

 

Following the rules, respecting one’s opponents, not cheating, and
learning how to be a good winner or loser are considered to be part of what it
meant to be a decent individual, these standards are still appreciated in
American society. The nineteenth century philosophy was not to play for compensation
such as money or fame, contrary to the goals of today’s competitive athletes.
When the main purpose of participation shifts towards recognition and
compensation the genuine learning outcomes are lost (Camire
and Trudel, 2010).
The period of eight years old to twelve years old is thought to be
particularly critical in the process of social development and character. This
is why youth sport experiences play such an essential role in the development
of an individuals characteristics and beliefs. This age range is a time in
which children move out of an egocentric view of the world and into a view that
includes the perspectives of others or an altruistic perspective (Cote,
Turnnidge and Evans, 2014). Consequentially, social experiences
lead to the emergence of an understanding of the values of equality and
reciprocity and additionally lead to an increased respect for fairness,
humility, respect and justice.

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In contrast to the beneficial outcomes of youth sport
participation, external pressures of high salaries often lead to the corruption
of these ideals. Instead of building character and teaching morality,
competitive sport, which considers winning above all else, challenges the
concept that sports shape youth’s character. The more significant winning
becomes, the more the rewards for fair play and other values are likely to become
diminished (Greenwood and Kanters, 2009). In addition, children may
experience situations in which their parents or coaches push them past their
limits at a very young age. This could cause negative feelings towards
teamwork, athletics and fitness in general. Another implication of partaking in
sports at such a young age is the health aspect. Overuse injuries are common in
adolescents and adults that participated in youth sports. Finally, a child may
fall victim to the opposite effect of character building and value learning. If
a youth athlete recognizes that he or she has significant athletic ability as
compared to his or her peers, this may ignite an inflated ego, which could
result in adverse affects in terms of morality and character-building (Greenwood
and Kanters, 2009).

 

The positive and negative effects associated with sport
participation do not result from participation itself but rather from the quality of the experience. Under the
leadership of the right people, such as parents and coaches with the positive
attitudes, youth athletics can be a constructive and character-building
experience. Athletics provide an invaluable opportunity for youth to come in
contact with rules, social values, and character building experiences. Athletics
create an environment in which children can refine the skills that are
necessary to succeed as a member of society and as a member of the business
workforce in their future. By promoting values such as tolerance, fairness, and
responsibility sports provide the opportunity for youth to acquire an
appreciation for an active lifestyle, develop a positive self image by
mastering athletic skills, learn to work as part of a team, develop social
skills with other children and adults, and learn how to manage success and
failure  (Kleiber and Roberts,
1981).
Personally, my family has encouraged my sister and I to participate in sports
because they strongly believe in the values that are learned through team
sports. In fact, there are many links between the participation of youth sports
and life achievement such as; adolescents that participate in
sports during their youth are much more likely to participate in physical
activity as adults, to be exact, 77 percent of adults aged 30 and older
that play sports also played youth sports (Stupuris,
Sukys and Tilindiene 2013). Moreover, students participating in
sports at the youth level are extremely likely to continuing participating in
athletics through high school. Sequentially, high school athletes much more
likely to earn degree and get a college education. Additionally, according to a
survey of four hundred women chief executive officers, ninety four percent
reported that they participated in youth athletics. Of these four hundred women
chief executive officers, ninety-one percent of them claimed that participation
in youth athletics played a vital role in their successful careers (Stupuris,
Sukys and Tilindiene 2013).

 

In
addition to the values mentioned, individuals improve more than just their
character by participating in athletics as a youth. Other benefits include physical
activity, which is the most obvious benefit of sports participation (Stupuris,
Sukys and Tilindiene 2013). Many children spend a
large amount of time using electronics but the participation in athletics provides
these children with an opportunity to get healthy and exercise. In addition, participation
in youth sports provides children with a chance to develop social skills that
will benefit them throughout their entire lives. By participating in athletics,
children have the opportunity to interact and communicate with their peers as
well as adults. This provides the youth with social skills such as teamwork,
leadership and communication, which are necessary skills to be successful
academically and in the workforce. Participation
in youth sports can have a huge positive impact on a child’s self-esteem and
confidence. The encouragement of a young athletes coaches and parents is
imperative in the construction of strong self-esteem and self-appreciation. Even
though participation in youth sports may require children to be pushed beyond
their limits by coaches and parents, the children will learn valuable skills
such as determination and perseverance while doing so. Finally, a major
takeaway for youth athletes is the introduction of constructive criticism. Young
athletes learn to receive constructive criticism and use it to their benefit (Stupuris,
Sukys and Tilindiene 2013).

 

Furthermore,
it is not a surprise that children who participate in
athletics excel in academics as well. They can apply the same principles of
dedication and hard work learned through sports participation to their
classroom actions. According to a study conducted at the University of Ottawa,
playing on a high school sports team increases a young woman’s chances of
graduating from college by 41 percent (Stupuris,
Sukys and Tilindiene 2013). For me, the
attributes I learned through athletics have given me the tools to be a
successful in school. Values such as discipline, respect and humility are some
of the most important I learned throughout my childhood and adolescence. I have
even used athletics to further my education and earn a Division I lacrosse scholarship
and an additional offer to play Division III lacrosse after transferring from
my initial Division I institution. As a student-athlete I have been able to
market myself to potential employers by detailing the skills I learned as a
collegiate student-athlete. I often reference time management, analytical
thinking, self-motivation, teamwork, leadership and the ability improve from
criticism as speaking points on my resume and during interviews.  Lastly, lifelong health and wellness is a
long-term benefit of youth sport participation. The importance of health and
wellness are introduced at a young age, which encourages the continuation a
healthy lifestyle. Young athletes that participate in youth sports are also
introduced to health and nutrition and positive food choices. This is because
athletes need to monitor nutrition while participating in athletics.

 

                  Personal
development through youth sports involves a complex pathway that is shaped by
numerous factors over time. Nevertheless, by shaping each of these dynamic
elements in ways that promote individual development, coaches, parents, and
sport organizations will ideally foster positive sport experiences and
long-term outcomes in sport as well as in other areas of life. In
conclusion, sports help build character because they simply instill discipline
in participating athletes and discipline is the building block of order and
obedience in life. The benefits that youth gain from participation in
athletics are endless. The values that are taken from these sports help to
shape the minds and values of these individuals. I believe these values are the
roots of society and are imperative to the moral behavior of individuals.

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