As my Cultural Final blog, I wanted to talk about one of the most influential parts of my childhood. Sports involvement. I was ALWAYS involved in a sport as a child. I began doing “Mommy and Me” classes for gymnastics when I was only eighteen-months-old. When I was three, I was able to go to classes by myself. By the time I was five, I was also on the dance team and a t-ball team. Insanely, I also begged by mom to let me start taking Tae Kwon Do classes on top of all of that. My mom eventually told me that I could only pick two. I sat there with her and cried all night because it upset me so much. For some reason, I wanted to be a part of all of the sports and I loved participating, whether I was good at them or not.
The thought of the Tae Kwon Do classes were the first to go. I never started taking classes, so that was the easiest one to give up. Next came t-ball. I really wasn’t very good, my mom was one of the coaches the previous year, and I was one of two girls that were on the team. Now that I look back on it, I really did not like it, but at that time, I did not want to give it up. So that left me with my two big ones. Dance. Gymnastics. Two of my biggest passions in life still to this day.
I continued with dance until I was about eight-years-old. I did ballet and tap and I loved it. I wish I would have stayed more involved, but gymnastics was my main concern. I had such a passion for gymnastics. It is one of the most beautiful, most underrated, and most intense sports there is. I began competing in gymnastics with I was either six or seven. I continued with competing up until senior year of high school. The sport became too hard on my body and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was spending about thirty hours a week in the gym for practice, plus private lessons sometimes, on top of trying to balance my school work and my friends. Still to this day I love the sport of gymnastics more than I could explain. My thing was that it wasn’t totally about the physical activity… it was also about the teamwork, the bond that the entire team created, the closeness with the coaches, the life skills developed. I loved being involved in a sport as a child. I think it has helped me tremendously throughout my life so far.
I am thankful that my mom let me try to stay involved with as many sports as I could. I do not know what I would have done as a kid if I hadn’t been on these teams. My involvement with sports when I was younger has definitely shaped me into the person I have become today and I am so thankful for that. I believe that if kids want to be involved, they should be. There have been so many studies that state that being on a sports team, or even just a club, helps children in many aspects of their lives. I can help kids away from stupid things like alcohol and drugs, it can help boost self-esteem, it can form life-long friendships, and it helps with keeping kids in shape.
ESPN reported that in 2011, 21.5 million kids between six- and seventeen-years-old participate in sports in the US. In Canada, there was a study that broke down involvement in different ways. Reported was that 36% of males and 22% of females were involved on an organized team for than once a week, and 59% of males and 46% of females were involved on an informal sports team or club. Another study in Belgium stated that 54% of Flemish children participate in an organized sports group. Those numbers give me such hope for the future. These children are learning life skills and they will be ahead in a lot of leadership opportunities. They are staying away from other bad habits such as not exercising.
In my opinion, I do not know where I would be if I had not participated in sports like I did as a child. I might not have the drive to better myself or the leadership that I developed as the captain of a sports team. I am proud of every individual who decides for themself that they want to join a sports team. I have made life-long bond with many girls that were on my teams and that is one of the most precious things in my life.
Kelley, Bruce, and Carl Carchia. “Hidden Demographics of Youth Sports.” ESPN.com. N.p., 11 July 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
Trussell, Dawn E., and William McTeer. “Children’s Sport Participation in Canada: Is It a Level Playing Field?” N.p., 2007. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.
Vandermeerschen, Hanne; Vos, Steve; and Scheerder, Jereon. “Who’s Joining the Club? Participation of Socially Vulnerable Children and Adolescents in Club – Organised Sports.” (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.