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Sports can be a beneficial aspect of a person’s life. The sporting culture as a whole can get stereotyped as a machismo activity that boosts stereotypical masculinity roles. And while this may be true, it is only a very small aspect of the sporting agenda. Sports can be part of a healthy lifestyle, help build social connections, and build discipline all in one.

My own relationship with sports has been an interesting one. Sports have totally ruled my life and I have been the over-zealous fan using sports to cope with my own mediocrity. But I have now changed my relationship with sports to a very healthy social activity. The Saturday hoop sessions at the gym are paramount to my success, and help to create balance in my life. I am here to tell you that sports are good, and how they can be used as a tool to help build a healthy lifestyle.

Get Your Body Moving

To begin with, sports are a fun way to get outside and move the body. Instead of grunting, screaming, and lifting weights in monotonous repetition, sports give an alternative option to stay healthy and fit. When playing games, such as soccer or basketball, an individual is running the entirety of the time without thinking about it. Furthermore, sports involve using quick explosive cuts, which is a great way to work fast twitch muscles. These moves are organic to the human body and work muscles that are hard to reach, if not damn near impossible otherwise.

For instance, when going for a run, an individual is using a much more controlled, limited motion of muscle movements, which limits fitness goals. Plus, who actually likes to go for a run? Boring…Instead a person can play soccer and natural competitive instincts will kick in. In a tie game, most people are going to exert more energy than they would trying to run an eight-minute mile. Plain and simple, it’s human nature to be competitive. So go play some hoops, kick around a soccer ball, and build a healthier lifestyle all around. It’s a win-win situation.

Win Some, Lose Some

Have you ever wondered why sports teams are so close? It’s because they learn how to win and fail together. Learning how to lose is one of the most important traits a human can develop. Things will inevitably go wrong in a person’s life, and if an individual doesn’t know how to respond, then life will be tough.

In a sport like baseball, failure is not only the norm, it is expected. A star MLB player fails seven out of every ten times at the plate. To put that into perspective, the best baseball players in the world only get a hit three out of every ten at bats. It takes a strong mental fortitude to keep batting after a player has already struck out three times in a game, but a true player knows in their head and, more importantly, feels that they will succeed the next time they step up to bat.

This is an important lesson to take into the real world. Unless a person has some sort of a connection, most jobs will never get back to them. An estimated two out of every ten jobs a person applies to will actually respond to them. The difference between getting the job a person wants or doesn’t want is to keep believing in oneself and continuing to put in the work. Those who give up, end up working a job they don’t like and use different forms of escapism to cope with life.

Baseball is a great metaphor for life. One must continue to believe in themselves despite immeasurable odds. Some variation of a quote I once heard goes like this: “Life will beat you to your knees and keep you there if you let it. But one must continue to believe in themselves at least most of the time”. You’re the only person who controls your destiny, so make it happen.

Camaraderie Within Sports

I personally believe the biggest benefit of sports is the social connections associated with playing a game. Sports will connect an individual with people that they otherwise would not associate themselves with. For example, last week when playing basketball with my buddies, we had people who work at Boeing, people who work as servers, middle school kids, and a wide variety of ethnicities on the court. This collective group of people would most likely never come into contact with one another if it wasn’t for a game of hoops.

We were all so immersed in our competitive spirit that we didn’t even have time to think about these differences.  All that mattered was that we were there to compete and have fun. These social connections can lead to a myriad of different opportunities in life. It could be a new friendship, a new job opportunity, or even a future partner. The opportunities are endless.

Plus, weird things happen in sports. Last week a group of middle school kids beat our team of grown men in our twenties — and our team was good; we had an ex-Division 1 basketball player on our squad. This is something these middle school kids will likely talk about for a long time. They will always be able to reflect on that time when they beat a team of grown men at the gym. If that isn’t social cohesion, I don’t know what is. For my team, it was a humbling experience, but we still had a good time, got a workout in, and even had a laugh about it afterwards. This is another example of social cohesion at its finest. The social aspect of playing sports is by far the biggest benefit, in my opinion.

Now I’m not here to say that sports are perfect and that they can’t create problems in a person’s life. Playing sports all day is definitely not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. However, I have already written a piece on how sports can be bad for an individual’s life which you can read here:

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Whether it’s playing tackle football, kicking around a soccer ball, or shooting some hoops. Sports can be used as a tool for a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Furthermore, sports can be a healthy form of escapism when a whole bunch of other things are going wrong in a person’s life. There’s really not a lot left for me to say now, other than, get your ass out there and go have some fun. Your internal spirit will thank you later.

What impact has playing sports had on your life? Let us know down in the comments.