Team sports benefit both body and brain

Basketball Team
  • Athletics
  • Outside the Classroom
  • Upper Division
Josh Lake, Athletics Director
Basketball Team

By Josh Lake, Denver Jewish Day School Athletics Director

As the sun sets on another Denver Jewish Day School basketball season and at the same time the dawn of spring sports is here, I wanted to reflect on the importance of team sports in our community. Being a part of a team is so much more than winning or losing. So much more than win-loss records, personal stats, and even the baseline skill acquisition that is gained by playing for a team. The word “team” by its very nature shouts at the positive benefits. In the 21st century, collaboration is the number one desired skill by employers. They crave it. Joining a team teaches so much about collaboration, compromise, being able to work with different people from different backgrounds to achieve a common goal. This is the essence of team sports. 

Winning and losing are secondary to the bonds that are formed among teammates who struggle together, learn together, succeed and fail together. These are all tenets of much larger and more lasting life lessons. If you can be a good teammate, you can be a part of whatever team you choose in the future. Research overwhelmingly supports the success that children have by participating in team sports in regards to future ability to collaborate than those that do not have the same opportunity. Furthermore, the confidence that is built from winning and the resilience that is built from losing cannot be replicated outside the authentic outcomes that are found in team sport contests. 

Playing basketball

At Denver Jewish Day School, we encourage our Upper Division students to join one of our sports teams. We have a no-cut policy, meaning that every child who wants to participate can. I recall numerous times watching a child start a season as an unsure participant — with little experience — and then blossom in just the space of a couple of months into a confident leader and, more importantly, a good teammate. I have seen amazing friendships born from simply having a common set of goals. It can be magical. 

My recent work with Dr. Rachel Gall on our very own MenschSkills program has led to a lot of discovery in the realm of teamwork, self confidence and decision making. Our community is concerned in particular with teens and vaping. There is evidence that habits formed in team sports such as self discipline, goal setting and follow thru are a great counter to making poor decisions regarding illicit drug use, promiscuous sexual behavior, and other dangerous behavior patterns. Self care and good habits are formed within a team. 

Fit kids learn better. This is a fact that is supported by multiple studies. Your child will literally be a better student and more apt to learn by remaining active on a daily basis. Team sports is often the catalyst to better habits in and out of the classroom. Often times, these habits cycle into making children better at school as well as sports simultaneously. This process works.  

I sometimes think back to my days as a student athlete. I played football and was on the wrestling team. I never made this connection when I was a player, but from these experiences I learned leadership, how to collaborate, how to teach and coach and most importantly, how to motivate. The most powerful role models in my life were my coaches and my camp counselors. They made me a better student, a better person and a better leader. 

Whether you play for us or play for a rec center or a club, I encourage our community to create a lifelong habit of physical fitness, joining a team and creating lifelong bonds with coaches and teammates.

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