OK, being upfront here, I am not a big fan of sport. Never have been. But, as a parent, I understood the value of my kids participating in sport. So we explored all the football/cricket/soccer/hockey/swimming options available. My kids, however, were just not into it. Maybe our bias influenced us to not push them when they said they weren’t interested? My justification was based on allowing their level of interest to guide us. My kids were into books, movies, music, story telling and humour, all very valid interests. But were we negligent by not pushing sport and the benefits that come with playing sport?
The positives of sport participation are many and valid, I do not deny. But is sport the only way in which our teenagers can experience these important attributes? Not in my book, baby! Creative pursuits can offer so much, from both an individual and a social perspective. Let me share with you a few examples of how my eldest has garnered important attributes and life skills that may not immediately be associated outside the context of sport.
Were we negligent by not pushing sport and the benefits that come with playing sport?
Eldest is in a band. They formed when they were in years 10 and 11 and have been together for two years. Eldest was the last to join. The band required him to earn his position by auditioning and then had a probation period of sorts. It was important to the members that the fit was ‘right’. Reminder – they were 16 and 17 years old and did not have an adult coach to prompt this behaviour. I was impressed by their commitment to team authenticity. He had to show his commitment to the band and earn his place.
Their music is predominately originals. This takes creativity, collaboration, trust and compromise on a personal and group level. Without the aid of an adult coach, this band has shown diplomacy, consultative attitude and negotiation skills by their own accord. Consider the courage it takes to put something you created and have worked so hard on, literally on stage for people to critique. Those are pretty awesome life skills being honed at that age, don’t you think?
The commitment required by each member equates to lots of practice and the responsibility to ‘know your stuff’ before band practice. Then comes the dedication of fine-tuning things so that on ‘game day’ they are tight and rocking! At performances the band require organisation not only amongst themselves but also with the event promoter or venue manager, other bands in the line up and so forth. Loaning and sharing of equipment, cooperation and support with other bands are all on the agenda. Then to have the guts to get up on stage and play to people who may not even know who they are and yet give it their all, each and every gig. Strength of character much?
So have I done Eldest a disservice by not pushing him to play sport as a teenager? Hell no, I do not believe so. Creative pursuits require a level of self-focus, exploration and understanding that is second to none. Appreciation and respect for others’ styles and pursuits has helped him develop social skills around acceptance and respect for the individual. The life skills these young adults have implemented in the band will take them far and I am very proud of them.
As for those who are concerned about fitness and health – do you know how much stamina is required to be active on stage under lights for an hour or more whilst playing a 5kg guitar? Or to play a drum kit? Or to belt out song after song whilst on the go?
Yep, I am a proud groupie mum. Where does that rate on the soccer mum scale? I’m not sure, but give me the night time gigs over early, cold, wet mornings any day!