The real reason for sports

I don’t know when sports will return to normal. But I’m hoping they do and my rational might surprise you.

Life-long sports fans often look at the showy reasons we are willing to spend hours watching and reading about our favorite teams. As those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s can attest, perhaps “the thrill of victory…the agony of defeat,” – the opening to ABCs Wide World of Sports – says it all.

But maybe there are better motives for having sports in our world. And I’m not talking about the various professional leagues, nor am I referring to big-time college sports. I’m talking about youth and school sports where the benefit of participating on the field or court is one of the most important activities for preparing young people for the business world.


Ninety-six percent of big-time female executives played sports.

Don’t believe me? Well, consider this. According to Ernst & Young, a multi-national professional services network, 96% of women in C-suite positions played sports. (Note here that C-suite refers to the highest-ranking senior executives in an organization. The C stands for chief.)

I spent 20 years teaching journalism and communication skills in a Title I high school in Phoenix. I was fortunate enough to get to know my students well, as sometimes I had them four consecutive years. I mention this because I was able to see how much my charges grew from freshman year through graduation. The ones who seemed to mature the most were often those who participated in sports. The question is why.


Young athletes learn the importance of perseverance, mental toughness, and teamwork.

Young people are often insecure. (Think back. Be honest.) They fear failure and ridicule and often keep to the shadows, worried about being laughed at. But an athlete can’t do that. When you step on a playing surface you are required to be resilient. After all, on occasion everyone drops a pass or strikes out or angers the coach. There’s no hiding then. Athletes must hone their mental toughness in the public sphere. They must learn to persevere even when the scoreboard says they’re losing 66-0.

It’s not easy to get up and go out for another pass. But young people who do are mastering some of the most important skills in the workplace. Athletes must deal with defeat and failure and not give up. They must be able to overcome frustration, be confident, and work with others toward a common goal. If you’ve ever spent one day in an office, you can see how important these life skills are.

Last Game Touchdown

I taught high school for 20 years and officiated amateur sports for four decades, so I’ve seen first hand how sports help young people grow.

I officiated amateur sports for 40 years, and I wish parents and fans understood the lessons their children are being offered when they decide to participate in sports. Sadly, some parents are often more interested in convincing their kids that they are sure to become Olympic or professional athletes someday, money and fame being their only enticement. I wish they’d remember that almost all high school athletes will never play again once they graduate and just 2% of NCAA athletes will ever turn pro.

But these statistics should not negate the importance of sports participation. The get back up and try again ethos is engrained in sports and those who can’t handle failure, those who quit and walk away, will perhaps continue that trend throughout their lives. While those who take a breath and give it another go will grow to be confident, secure, and resilient.

I’d hire them. Wouldn’t you?

Wild Horses on the Salt Cover 2




Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint

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Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

2 thoughts on “The real reason for sports

  1. Catherine Castle says:

    The same can be said for students who are part of performing arts. They, too, have to develop the confidence to get up on that stage and dance, sing or play an instrument in front of an audience. Pushing yourself to do things outside your comfort zone stretches you.


  2. annemontgomeryauthor2013 says:

    Absolutely, Catherine! I have always promoted the arts along with sports. One of my most thrilling moments in football was during halftime when a player appeared without his helmet and shoulder pads to play trumpet in the marching band. Beautiful! 😉


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