I have heard stories of parents removing their child from a sporting team because they think focusing only on academia will enhance their prospects of a lucrative career in the future. While I think it is commendable they are prioritising education, especially considering the small chance of professional sporting success, I’d like to present an argument opposing this approach. There is no doubt schools and universities are great places to increase knowledge and gain qualifications potentially leading to better job prospects but more than that is required for a successful career. Strong social skills are needed enabling a person to effectively interact with others and in many cases it is vital to be a team member and work with others to achieve a goal. These skills cannot be developed by spending everyday reading a book or typing up an essay. There are lots of book smart academics who aren’t street smart and lack common sense having never had to deal with situations that life away from academia can deliver.

Sport is a natural environment to hone these skills in pressurised situations that replicates the work place. Dealing with mistakes is a huge part of playing sport and is a key component of excelling in any career. It is possible to go through school achieving top grades and never having to deal with any setbacks. Sport can create leaders who encourage and motivate others around them, what business is not looking for someone like this? You can also learn from being coached by good leaders and through following professional sports teams while learning about teams from different countries. Sport offers a mental release from studies which can prevent burnout and allow enjoyment in their lives resulting in a better life balance and doesn’t feel like they’re sacrificing to achieve academic success.

Being active through sport can keep us fit and healthy and improve our quality of life which is essential in any career. Being good at sport creates opportunities for children to travel and learn about different places alongside increasing their confidence which can help them excel in the classroom. Sport gives you the opportunity to meet other people and families, creating potential friends for life while increasing the ability to network, often advantageous when seeking that first all important employment. From my own personal experience I know that taking part in sport may spark a passion and make you realise that sport is actually the career you want to follow. Removing a child from sport may improve their academic success but in the long run you may be restricting their career success.

 

Originally posted: 16th November 2015.