For those of you that have followed the blog for any given time, you know that I am a fan of sports. I believe that sports do great things in the lives of youth and I also believe that there is room for sports, scouts, academics, and a normal life for our youth. I actually think that when youth participate in sports and scouts they become better young men and women.
This last weekend was spent watching my oldest son wrestle at a tournament with the High School wrestling team. John did real well this weekend, and as I sat and watched, and for those of you that have been to wrestling tourney’s.. you know that it is an all day affair. You have lots of time to sit and watch, think, write, or do as I do.. people watch.
I typically get into lengthy discussions with other parents. This year has been interesting as John is a Senior and many of the parents we hang out with we have known since the boys were all in kindergarten. So the discussions quickly turn to how amazed we are about our boys, future plans, college, and “do you remember when” subjects. This last weekend we got into a discussion about one of the boys that I have known since he was 7. He was in Cub Scouts with John, but when the time came to cross over, he made the choice not to continue with Scouting. He turned out to be a great young man and is a good friend of my daughters.
One of the other dads sitting with us said that his son had to drop out of Scouts because of athletics. He could not do both as Scouting and sports don’t mix.
I had to ask why he thought that way. The answer I got did not make sense to me. He said that Scouting was more for kids that were intellectual and could not make it in sports. He added that scouting takes too much time away from sports practice and social time. <insert record scratch>
I made mention that both of my boys were in scouts and they both are athletes, and they both are A’s and B’s students, and both have a good social life. He said it was the exception not the rule. Then I told him of the Scouts in my troop. In my Troop there are football players, baseball players, wrestlers, water polo, swim team, lacrosse, soccer, and golf team members. Of those guys, they are active in the Troop and are all either Eagle Scouts or well on their way to becoming and Eagle Scout. All of them are good students and very active with their Schools. Members of Student government or clubs, and are all really good young men.
Again, he said we are the exception not the rule. So I had to ask.. why do you suppose that is?
I believe that young men that play organized sports learn valuable life lessons. They learn team work and working with others. They learn that the team comes first and individual egos should be left at home. They learn that hard work produces great things and that when you lose you learn. They learn that effort pays off and that collective effort will eventually win.
I believe that sports push young men to stay fit and sports develop in them a sense of committment and accountability. The individual is driven to be there for his team mates, he understands that without every one pitching in and moving toward the same goal the team will not be a success.
I think far to many times parents and Scout leaders can not get past the old “Jock” stereotype.
Speaking strictly for my family Sports and Scouting go hand and hand. Sports and Scouting complement one another and help round out our kids. Add to Sports and Scouting good family values, strong faith, and a host of friends that have the same interests, and we have been blessed with three awesome kids.
The boys John and Josh have been active in both Scouting and Sports since they could be. Josh started playing Football in 3rd Grade. John and Josh both run Track and played Soccer. John took to Wrestling, Josh stuck with Football and Track. Katelyn played Soccer and volleyball for the Nike Club league team. She is talented in Band and is a great student academically. She tried Girl Scouts, but could not fit in with their click. So she stuck to a supportive role in her brothers Scouting lives.
The point here is that all three are great kids and sports and scouts have played a great role in that. It has meant long weekends, lots of travel time, and spending money on the kids activities rather than ourselves, but the result is that we have a great family life and kids that are healthy, smart, and ready for life.
Sports gave them confidence, good attitudes, and drive to accomplish anything. Scouting does much of this and more, but when the two worlds meet a great young person comes out the other end.
So this Dad that does not see the value in both.. or that its one or the other.. well, I think that comes from parents that see the hassle, Scout leaders that see the competition, and youth that go along with what they say.
Parents need to be supportive of a young man that wants to do sports and scouting. They need to make a committment to their son that doing both is possible. Scout leaders need to understand the value in having an athlete in their troop. They too need to be committed to the Scout and his needs and interests. Scouting and Sports can work together.
I am proud of the Scouts of my Troop that take the time to be athletes. I admire their dedication and committment, and I tell them that during Scoutmaster conferences or when they have an achievement on or off the playing field.
Here is what I know for sure.
It’s not 100% so I am not saying this for effect…
Young men that are Scouts and Athletes are better students, better leaders, are better fit, and have a higher confidence level. They stick it out to the end and do not let their Troop or their team mates down.
I’ll take that any day!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
*By the way.. the picture on this post.. Gerald R. Ford, 39th President, Eagle Scout, Football player at the University of Michigan 1933