Sport is as old as humanity itself. It’s kept societies fit and healthy while building strong communities and boosting morale. In this modern world of iPhones and laptops, the importance of sports is more relevant than ever. Competitive physical exercise not only motivates children and adults to get outside and keeps fit, but it also instills important values.
For many people, sport is taken for granted. It’s something that exists in the background but isn’t considered particularly valuable. Maybe it’s seen as a bit of fun on the weekend but ultimately, not all that important. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sport matters and the importance of sports need to be more widely discussed. Without it, many aspects of modern society will crumble.
From health and happiness to education and society, sport matters. Promoting sports, inspiring young athletes, and increasing healthy competition will help individuals and communities to flourish. Here’s a complete guide outlining the benefits and importance of sports.
The Health Benefits of Sport
One of the best reasons for kids and adults to play sport is for the incredible health benefits. With experts recommending 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, it can be hard to find the time and motivation to fit this into a busy schedule. Sport makes it easy. Firstly, the sport tends to involve vigorous exercise, meaning you only need to aim for 75 minutes a week to get the same benefits. This makes achieving a healthy level of exercise easier.
Secondly, the sport is fun. Everyone can find a physical activity that gets them excited, whether that’s volleyball, cycling, kayaking, or rock climbing. The vast range of sports available means that it’s possible to find a form of exercise that’s enjoyable. Once again, this makes exercise exciting and less of a chore, increasing the chances of you finding the motivation to do it.
If you achieve the recommended level of exercise, then the health benefits are undeniable. They include:
- 50% decreased risk of diabetes
- 35% decreased risk of heart disease
- 50% reduced risk of colon cancer
- 20% reduced risk of breast cancer
- 30% lower risk of falling as an older adult
- 30% lower risk of dying
These statistics are true for just a small amount of exercise. One sports game a week would be enough to reap these rewards. At the same time, you’ll be lowering your body fat percentage and increasing muscle mass. You’ll sleep better, have more energy throughout the day, a higher sex drive, and increased appetite. It’s almost impossible to list all the health benefits!
Beyond these clear health benefits, the importance of sports lies in how they encourage other healthy behavior. In order to perform well and win games, you’re going to smoke less, drink less, eat better, and get more sleep. Having this competitive motivation means that you live more healthily across all areas of your life.
Exercise is so vital to maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding cardiovascular problems. For many, however, nothing is more daunting than a trip to the gym. Sport, conversely, doesn’t feel like a burden. It’s fun, social, exciting, and fulfilling. As a result, achieving all the aforementioned health benefits is instantly more achievable.
Beyond Physical Health
The physical importance of sports is well known but you might not be aware of how it impacts your mental health. Participating in physical activities has an incredibly beneficial effect on your happiness. This boost in happiness comes from a range of sources, both neurological and psychological.
1. Neurological Benefits
In terms of physical changes in the brain, sport releases dopamine and serotonin. As a result, your risk of depression is reduced by up to 30%! These so-called happiness chemicals are essential for a stable and positive mood. Any form of exercise stimulates their production but sport seems to do so more effectively, especially when you score a goal or win a game.
As sport is often practiced outdoors, you’ll also be receiving more vitamin D. This too has been shown to improve mood and lower the symptoms of depression. Taking vitamin D tablets can be used as a treatment for depression but getting it directly from the sun is a more natural and effective method.
2. Psychological Benefits
It’s not just depression that’s reduced when you try sports. Through releasing tension and increasing mental energy, you’ll likely find that your anxiety levels are lowered as well. Part of this comes from the feeling of being in the zone; that almost meditative state when you’re completely grounded in the present and focused on the task at hand.
Even conditions like ADHD can be improved through sport. Despite being essentially physical, there’s a great deal of mental concentration needed to participate. Sports players are constantly making decisions, communicating with others, and watching fast-paced action. This improves focus and memory retention. If you’re wary about taking ADHD medication, then doing sport can have much the same effect.
Furthermore, sport is incredible for your sense of self-worth. Each day that you have a game, you’ve given your life a purpose. The aim is clear: score more points than the other team. When you win, this sense of achievement builds confidence. When you lose, you’re learning about resilience. It’s the competitive nature of sport that has wonderful psychological benefits for your wellbeing.
3. Improved Social Skills
Unlike other forms of exercise, sport is necessarily social. Even when you’re playing a solo sport, you’ll have a competitor, coach, and referee to interact with.
For many people in the modern world, social interaction is lacking. Sport could be you’re way into making friends and reaping all the benefits that come with that. Outside of physical health, relationships are the most important foundation of happiness.
Team sports are particularly good for building social prowess. Whether you’re a socially awkward adult or want your child to improve their interpersonal skills, team games are one of the best tools for achieving this.
Firstly, they require a deeper level of communication. You can’t pass a soccer ball through to a player without knowing where they plan to run. Being able to communicate this maneuver in the few seconds available requires active listening and the ability to read body language. This is a skill that is useful in everyday life but best learned on the sports field.
Secondly, team sports require you to place the good of the group above your own self-interest. It might feel good to run the length of the pitch, take on every player, and then slot the ball into the top corner. However, what’s the likelihood of this actually happening? It’s more likely that you’ll lose the ball to the other team. In soccer, how many you score doesn’t matter. All that matters is that your team wins. Through this, you learn not to be selfish and therefore are able to be a better friend, sibling, parent, and partner.
There are a few other social benefits of playing sport. For children, it helps them to expand their social circle. If they’ve bonded with friends over computer games, then they may not have got to know the more athletic kids. This is a chance to introduce them to more people. It also gives them a sense of belonging among a group of kids who all wear the same shirt and have the same aims. If you want your child to feel supported by a good group of friends, get them into sport.
Importance of Sport in Education
From the moment they start school, a child should be exposed to sport. This will begin as play for a young child in elementary school. By college, however, this can be a serious and vital component of a young person’s life. For college athletes, sport provides meaning and a potential career path. It should therefore be fostered and encouraged, with gym class given the importance it deserves.
Throughout every stage of education, here’s why the sport is so valuable.
1. Building Friendship Among Pupils
Kids in schools need to be able to get along with their fellow pupils. They’ll spend years of their lives with the same people, confined to classrooms, and cooperating on group tasks. Teachers, therefore, need to find a way to foster friendship between students. Sport is a great way to do this, as children play together. Through play, friendships are strengthened and classroom environments are calmer and more pleasant.
2. Healthy Kids are Better Learners
Physical exercise boosts mental energy, memory retention, and concentration. As a result, children who get a few minutes of exercise each day perform better in the classroom. They’re less likely to get distracted and will take in information more quickly. This allows them to get through the course material more quickly and achieve better results in exams. Don’t think of gym class as taking time away from more academic subjects but rather as supporting them.
3. Improving Problem Solving Skills
In addition to healthy children performing better at school, athletic children are great problem solvers. That’s essentially what a sports game is! Kids must find a way to outwit the opposition to win the match. For the duration of the game, players are solving problems. They must decide whether to shoot or pass, whether to play an offside trap or defend the goal line, or whether to play it safe or take a risk. The more they play, the more they’ll have learned from their mistakes to be better problem solvers. These skills can then be taken into algebra, chemistry, and literature classes.
4. Instilling Core Values
Sport teaches values that are essential to daily life. Respect for the opposition is needed when entering the grown-up world of politics or having disagreements with a romantic partner. Discipline helps children to learn that hard work gets the best long-term results. Resilience prepares students for the inevitable rejection of the job market. Finally, sport promotes humility in defeat which helps children to deal with life problems as they arise with grace and decorum.
The Role of Sport in Society
The importance of sports doesn’t end in high school. Sporting events are often the center of communities, bringing people together. Every city in the world has its share of sports teams who compete for the entertainment of thousands of spectators. For many, watching your team come rain or shine is the most important part of the week. Like Sunday church, a trip to the stadium at the weekend brings meaning to the lives of millions.
Because of their popularity, sports teams are also crucial to local economies. Dallas Cowboys, for instance, employs over a thousand people, bringing in a revenue of $950. This is money that goes back into society via taxes and charity work. Every town and city across America have their own sports teams raising money, providing jobs, and keeping the local economy afloat.
Towns require their own sense of identity in the same way that members of a state or nation feel a sense of belonging and connection. Sports teams help to create this identity. From their colors to the mascots and cheerleaders, communities are bonded over their shared commitment to a particular sport. In international events, there’s a sense of unity as countries come together to back their team on the world stage. This can lead to a wave of optimism, for instance during the Women’s Soccer World Cup 2019 when the USA team was victorious. Women’s soccer may not be a major event in the USA but many felt incredible pride watching their team win.
If you were in any doubt about the importance of sports, hopefully, this information has helped you see why they matter. On an individual level, health and wellbeing are so important. For society as a whole, however, embracing sports means a more highly educated population, unified over their shared love of the game.
Sport covers every aspect of life. Whether you’re a huge fan or couldn’t care less, the sporting world affects you. From the quality of your child’s education to the number of jobs available in your area, a good sporting industry has incredible benefits.