Student Athletics Taught Life Lessons Outside the Classroom

Portage-Indian-HeadWritten by Ben Bachmann, Assistant Athletic Director

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”

-Ben Franklin

Regardless of the athletic skills or techniques required, student-athletes at Portage High School are learning some of life’s most important lessons outside the “normal” classroom by being involved in sports. Statistics have shown that student-athletes tend to have fewer absences, lower number of discipline issues, and are more likely to stay in school. Also, they receive a higher percentage of non-athletic scholarships for college than their peers. There are five life skills that transcend sports, correspond with Portage Township Schools P.E.A.K. Initiative, and help to prepare student-athletes for the real world.

Communication is the foundation of all relationships. Whether it’s talking strategy with teammates in practice, answering questions from the local media, or sitting down with a coach to clarify something, communication is constantly being practiced. The same type of skills are necessary in the workplace when discussing how to complete a task with co-workers or how to correct a potential problem with your supervisor.

Teamwork begins with a common goal and/or vision and is built by learning to rely on one another while working together for the greater good. Leaders emerge and, through critique and feedback, players develop and grow into roles. In order to be successful, the group must be unified, be clear about where it wants to go and be willing to sacrifice personal attention.

Being detail-oriented is a way of life for student-athletes. They are drilled through thousands of repetitions and see how the smallest detail can be the difference in success or failure. Ultimately, athletes learn how the “little things” in life can affect the whole in both personal and professional experiences.

Handling adversity may be in the form of a bad call, poor game conditions, a bus running late, the disappointment in a loss/poor performance, or even an injury. Student-athletes must quickly redirect their focus back to the two things they are ALWAYS in control of: their APPROACH to any situation and the CHOICE they make on how to respond to that situation.

Time management is learned from the benefit of having a tighter schedule due to added responsibilities. With several hours of the day already spoken for, having to schedule out a day/week/month/season can help maximize output. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in 24 hours when the day’s events are clearly defined.

This short list begins to scratch the surface of the positives of participating in athletics and doesn’t even mention the well documented health benefits of regular exercise. To parents reading this article, encourage your kids to play a sport, or better yet, try multiple sports. It’s not about your daughter/son becoming the “star” of the team, but rather learning the life lessons that sports can help to teach them to become well-rounded, productive members of society.