Sports and Character

This is our Skyline football team perfecting their technique in order to dominate their games all throughout their season.

Can sports help build good character? Well, let’s start with the basics. Team sports obviously help with your physical strength, but they can also help you socially. You make friends with your teammates, creating bonds. Could they also help athletes improve mentally? Participating in sports has been proven to improve strategic thinking, respect, and discipline, among a lot more skills. It also has some side effects, but we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s get on with sharing the facts. 


Team sports can help with an athlete’s strategic thinking. Whether you are on the field or the court, you will always have to think about your next step, about how you’re going to complete that pass, or how hard you’re going to hit the ball with your swing. You have to think about how the other people in the game are going to react to whatever you do next. Both of those things can improve how you complete schoolwork or how you play games on a board or device. If you are good at strategic thinking, then you can get higher grades. In fact, it’s proven that 97% of all athletes graduate, which is 10% more than people who don’t participate in any sports. Part of this is because people who participate in sports have to maintain a certain GPA in order to play in games, which causes more people to graduate. One Swedish study states “if they understand what caused a certain action, they can map out the steps that lead to unwanted consequences and come up with an effective solution. Each time your child gets triggered by something like his teammate not passing the ball during the basketball game, they will be better at handling unpleasant situations and won’t give up because of it.”  If kids learn to think about their actions, and their repercussions of them, then they will learn to be better adults and better people in general. Take, for example, Michael Jordan. Jordan is always thinking about his next step, and isn’t afraid if he misses. He uses that mindset throughout his entire career. He once said in an interview “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying. I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.” He was thinking strategically. He planned it out, but by saying that it’s ok to miss, he was able to do it with no worries. I interviewed some Skyline athletes, and this is Mark Wilson’s point of view. “ Sports are a lot of hard work, and you have to be dedicated to your sport. If you aren’t then you will fail…. You have to be thinking about your next step in a game or match because if you aren’t then the other players will catch you off guard and they will win the game. My teammates are especially good at helping me figure that kind of stuff out. I appreciate all they do to help with that stuff. They always create a good dynamic whenever we are all around each other.” The reason that having a good dynamic with your teammates is so beneficial is that if your teammates don’t know you, and you don’t have a bond, you can’t work well together; they can’t help you with that next move or pass. Mark goes on to say that his teammates are some of his best friends. Sports can also teach athletes to be respectful and to be good people. 


Participating in a team sport will teach you discipline. Doing a sport comes with a lot of pressure to do the right thing both on and off the court. I interviewed Dylan Meek, one of our freshman football players and he said,” Sports help keep people good, they teach people to have a great time and to be outgoing, and to make new friends. The team really creates a good dynamic and makes me want to play and to try harder in all of my activities whether they be sports or academics. I know I have that support system…. There is a lot of pressure on student-athletes to maintain grades and to keep playing amazing on the field which means you have to keep that can-do  mindset.” Dylan goes on to talk about how athletes have to respect one another and themselves in order to have a good game. Another one of our student-athletes says “ The thing I am most worried about on the field is whether or not I am being respectful and sticking to my morals. I will never break what I believe is right for a game, and the scoreboard definitely reflects that.” The scoreboard tells us that there is a clear winner and loser in a game. 55% of the players that I interviewed claimed that the scoreboard is one of the least important parts of a game, they all claimed that the most important part of a game is how you act, whether or not you are respectful.


On the other hand, sports can cause some people to be worse people. Sports can cause people to become more aggressive and competitive. Sports, especially football, are very aggressive, and people will sometimes carry that aggression and anger home with them. That’s how we get cases like the one of Ray Rice. Rice was shown on camera footage beating his then-fiance (now wife) in an elevator. It got him fired from his team, the Ravens and indefinitely suspended from the NFL. Sports only produce good people if they work hard, and some people are not willing to put the work in. They become lacking players who don’t have the emotional capacity to contain all of the feelings involved in sports. This can cause people to cheat in sports because they crave the satisfaction of winning. Some instances like this include Deflate-gate in 2015 and Lance Armstrong taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to win cycling tournaments. The point is that some people will do anything to win a game, and those people don’t have the work ethic to become better people. A review study published in the Journal of Athletic Training implies that there are a number of bad consequences from sports, such as increased anxiety and stress, injuries, cost, etc. A lot of our athletes also stated that there is a lot of pressure involved in sports, which in one way or another has caused unnecessary stress in their lives. On the contrary, one of our players, who wish to remain anonymous, said that “Participating in sports has changed my life for the better. It has helped with my anxiety and given me amazing coping mechanisms for when I get really anxious because I am constantly having to control my emotions on the field and have to calm myself down quickly which has transferred into my everyday life.” They then go on to say that sports have helped shape them into the person they are today in more than one way.


Sports can help people become better because they teach people to have strategic thinking, as well as being respectful to not only their peers but adults. They also teach people to have discipline and to be a great person. Sports, however, can also teach aggression and competitiveness. Overall, sports are usually great for people, helping to produce many wonderful citizens.