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 were, however, just not into it. Maybe our bias influenced us to not push them when they said they weren’t interested. Did I push it? No, but my justification was based in 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 comes with playing sport?
The benefits of sport are many and valid I do not deny. But is sport the only way in which our teenagers can experience important attributes? Not in my book baby! Creative pursuits can offer so much from an individual as well as social perspective. Let me share with you a few examples of how my eldest has experienced important attributes and life skills that may not immediately be associated outside the context of sport.
Eldest is in a band. They formed when they were in years 10/11 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 are 16/17 years old and they 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 to be being honed at that age don’t you think?
The commitment required by each member equates lots of practice and the responsibility to ‘know your stuff’ before band practice. Then comes the dedication of fine-tuning things so on ‘game day’ they are tight and rocking! On game day the band require organization not only amongst them-selves but also with the event promoter or venue manager, other bands in the line up and so forth (again: they are 16/17 years olds). Loaning/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 other’s styles and pursuits develop skills in social acceptance of difference, and respect for the individual. The life skills that 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? Not sure, but give me night time gigs over early, cold wet mornings any day!