May 222014

Force Your Kids to Play Sports

Some decisions are too important for a child to make.

Good parents do not allow their children to choose if they:

  • go to school
  • eat
  • sleep
  • go to church
  • obey

While children should be allowed to make many choices, there are some decisions which are too important for them to be trusted with.

Sports fall into this category. (See: Why You Should Never Yell at a T-Ball Umpire)

How can a 7th grader be entrusted with such a life-altering decision of whether or not they engage in athletic competition.

Too much value is found in sports for a a child’s participation to be left up to them.

A parent should force their children to play sports.

Most of the time. (See: Your Child Isn’t That Good)

Sure there are exceptions. Not every child will have the ability or talent to play sports, but those cases are far more rare than we often assume. A majority of children should be forced to play something.

The value of athletics is too great.

And this is truer today than ever.

In a society where obesity is at the core of many leading causes of death¬†and in my own country 1/3 of all adults are obese, it is almost a parent’s moral obligation to ensure physical activity for their children.

Living in a time where narcissism is on the rise among youth, the value which sports can bring of teaching teamwork, dedication, and dealing with success and failure is vital.

Children need to be involved in sports and parents are the ones who should make the decision for them.

Notice what I haven’t said. I did not say:

We should become one of those parents trying to live our athletic dreams through our children.

We should place sports above all other things.

We should live a life out of balance because of a sports schedule.

We should pressure our children to win. (See: Three Things a Parent Should Do From the Stands)

I said we should make them play, but even as we do so, we should be the one’s making sure everyone keeps the proper perspective on the activity.

Notice another thing I did not say. I did not say a parent should force a child to play a specific sport. I do not believe they should.

A parent should require their child play something. A parent should expose their child to several activities and as the child grows, the child should control which sports he or she plays. I demand THAT you play; you choose WHAT you play.

By allowing the child to pick which activities to do, it empowers them to express themselves, learn to control their lives, and understand the consequences of decisions.

The child choosing also helps the parent from becoming too involved in the child’s play. We should be diligent in assuring the child it is there decision what they play. They do not have to pick what we love or expect. They are free within the boundaries we have given them to choose whatever they desire. (See: What Makes a Little Boy Cry)

It can be a team sport or an individual sport. It can be something they do at school or an activity through another organization. It can be a sport which has games and keeps score or simply a physical activity for which there is no clear winner or loser. It can be football or Crossfit, but it will be something.

Every child needs to learn the discipline of regular physical activity. The sooner they make it a habit within their lives the longer they will reap the benefits. The issue is too important for a parent to leave the decision to a child.

Force your kids to play. They may not like it now, but they will thank you later.

For more, see:

Which Parent Are You?

Three Ways Parents Discourage Their Children

7 Responses to Force Your Kids to Play Sports
  1. brittneydeanne Reply

    Great advice! I would also add that dance is a great active for kids who love music and can’t seem to find a “sport” that works for them. I was that kid who couldn’t catch a ball to save my life and I hated most active things…but I loved dance. It isn’t considered to be an athletic option to many parents, but it’s a great choice for some kids.

  2. Michael Newcity Reply

    Agree, but why not also “force” them to play an instrument, try out for a play, participate in a community development effort, etc.?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      I’m okay with that. My emphasis in this article was about the need for exercise. I’m fine with making them join you on a run and community service.

  3. Linda Stewart Wells Reply

    Marching band in high school was the route three of our children took. They got exercise, learned to work well with others, and benefited from the music. They began playing the instruments in middle school band. They chose which instrument they would play. Only one of our children did not end up in marching band. The band director in middle school tried to force her to play the flute when what she wanted to play was the drums. She eventually gave up band.

  4. colissa Reply

    I have one who threw up on field day in first grade…she did dance and music there after. My other has many special needs including issues with balance and coordination. Sports are absolutely the best thing for her. I stopped doing PT and OT and she has run track, bowled, 7 yrs of t-ball, and recently started running the jr mud runs. She loves the friendships made, the cheers, and has improved far more rapidly than ever in therapy! I totally agree with the benefits of joining some kind of team or group. I also think it helps with work ethic and discipline. Thanks for the article

  5. Eric Reply

    Forcing a child to play sports is dead wrong. I see absolutely no benefit what so ever. Most athletic people I encountered growing up spent most of their time bullying less athletic kids. I have been a musician all my life and teach violin and guitar lessons. I see parents unfairly push their children in music too, but at least in music, the child will not be forced to suffer physical pain and possible serious injury. Forcing a child to play sports is the equivalent of child abuse. I never played a sport, will never play a sport, and I am not obese or unhealthy. The so-called sports culture of our country is the root of a lot of problems. It stresses the importance of competition and the emphasis of being better than everyone else instead of nurturing a child in whatever they may excel in. I have never regretted not playing sports.

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