The value of sports and teamwork



Opinion Columnist Colin Horning explains the role that sports play in teaching teamwork and unifying people.

COLIN HORNING, Opinion Columnist

One of the greatest aspects of American society is our love for sports. Since around the start of the 20th century, the camaraderie and sense of family that comes with following a favorite collegiate or professional sports team has been an integral part of living in the United States. Some people, of course, couldn’t care less about watching grown men or women hit a ball with a stick or throw a leather ball through a net for a few hours, but for those of us who do, it provides a distraction from our everyday lives and gives us and our friends something to talk about and to build relationships.

Of course, this isn’t even counting the value in being involved in athletics for oneself. The value of being on a team (especially from a young age) teaches you hard work, discipline, physical and mental toughness, respect for authority and above all else, the value of teamwork and the concept of sacrificing personal gain for the overall value of the team.

One of my favorite aspects of sports culture in America is how we all come together to root for a common cause: watching our team beat their opponent and having a great time doing so. On any given Saturday or Sunday in the fall, we set aside any differences we have and come together as one fanbase. Things like one’s political views, religion or anything else that might cause disagreements instantly are irrelevant during the few hours in which the game is being played because during that moment in time, we’re all just fans of our team. Now of course, this comes with the inevitable distaste for anyone rooting for the other team, but the vast majority of the time this is good-natured and hardly warrants anything of actual dislike. During a sporting event, it’s as if nothing else in the world matters; Political affairs in Washington and around the world are set aside, any stressors from school or work are essentially put on hold, and for that moment in time, all we care about is which team can score the most points.

The family aspect of sports is something I truly admire about sports culture, but the life lessons that can be learned from being on a team are also invaluable. One of the most important life lessons that I’ve learned from being on my high school basketball team is that regardless of talent, coaching, or anything else, there are only two things that you can control: your attitude and effort. Your opponent in the game might have much more talented players and their coach might be a lot more experienced and seasoned, but if you have a positive attitude regarding your team and give your full effort, there’s nothing else in the game that needs to be worried about. This principle can be applied to anything in life aside from sports: in the workplace, in your personal relationships, in school or anything else. Ever since I heard my basketball coach stress this idea to our team, I’ve instantly seen the value in what sports can teach us. Being on a team and going to practice day in and day out teaches you physical and mental toughness; showing up each day early in the morning even if it’s the last thing you wanted to do in that moment. Physically pushing the limits of your body leads to a sound body and overall improvements in your physical fitness.

Above all, being on a team has taught me that regardless if you get along with teammates or not, you and your teammates are in this together and have to set your differences and personal gains aside in order for the benefit of the team. The life lessons that can be learned by cheering for a team or by being on a team are ones that are simply too invaluable to miss out on.