Life lessons from playing sports

It is commonly agreed upon by many that a young person needs to take a wide variety of classes in school in order to become a brighter, more well-rounded person later on in life. Courses in mathematics, writing and reading are essential for anyone to have a meaningful career. I might add another thing that can be very essential for helping someone achieve greater success in their careers; that would be the lessons learned from participating in sports.

During a job interview many years ago, the interviewer asked me about some of the classes that I took in high school and college and how I thought they would prepare me for the future. Without any hesitation, I listed some classes and why I took them. Some of the classes had little to do with the current job opening, but by taking and having success in them, it showed that I had the flexibility to learn different things. He also took from my resume that I had participated in several team and individuals sports during my youth and that really seemed to caught his attention. He asked me a question that I was not really prepared to answer, but I did anyways. So tell me Mark, how has playing sports helped you as a person? I thought about the question for a minute then talked about how my background in sports could really help me in this and any company. I received extra training on how to work for a team, how to set goals and make sacrifices, how to deal with failures and successes and so forth. The interviewer was a former athlete himself and seemed very impressed with my answers. I had never really tied in my background with playing sports with business until at that moment.

I don’t want to knock the importance of taking a good dose of challenging course during your academic years, but the lessons one learns on the ball field or basketball court tend to stick with you the longest. My basketball coaches used to harp on the importance of teamwork and making sacrifices for the good of the team. Today, those words still ring loud and clear in my mind while I am at work. I work in a very team driven environment and those lessons of teamwork from the basketball court have really paid off in my current job. I can also work more effectively with other people and put aside my selfish tendencies to make them better. The same holds true of dealing with successes and failures at work. Being mentally tough at work can often be the difference between an average and a good employee. My background in sports have taught me how to handle the failures and disappoints that so often come up in a workplace environment. My level of competitiveness from playing sports has helped me strive to succeed and reach for higher and higher goals. I always want to get better and learn new things and set new goals for myself.

I fully realize that everyone is not gifted enough to play sports in high school or college. There are many clubs available to those non-jocks that reap some of the same benefits as participating in sports. Any participation in some form of extra-circular activity looks very good on a resume. It is almost like taking a bunch of extra classes to go along with the normal course load. Any potential employer has to be very impressed with someone who makes those kinds of additional sacrifices with their time and energy. Those activities may make the difference in who gets chosen to fill an existing position.

The lessons that I learned in the classroom have pretty much faded away. Isn’t that the case with most people? Those complicated Calculus word problems are a distant memory. However, the lessons of life that I learned from playing sports are still very fresh in my mind today. The time that I spent on the basketball court might have been the best internship that I ever had in preparing me for the future. Funny how such a meaningless game can have such a huge impact on a person’s life. The lessons I have learned from playing sports have greatly helped me in so many ways. Those lessons will never be forgotten.


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