“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.” – Michael Jordan –

Many people begin to get into trouble at a young age. I cannot truthfully say that I was an angel. While I never received an “A” in conduct, I managed to stay out of big trouble.

The primary reason was athletics.

Last week, I passed a juvenile detention center, which is basically a prison for children. Our excellent juvenile court judges in West Georgia tell us that these facilities are a reality for many of our youth.  Studies and experience show that kids, who spend their time in these facilities because of their behavior, are more likely to end up engaging in more illegal activity in the future.

When school ends and there are no activities to participate in.  U.S. News reports that the hours between 3-7 p.m. can be risky for many high school students as they are often alone and unsupervised.

While not every child has dreams of becoming a famous basketball star or the skills to even entertain the thought, participating in some form of organized activity is extremely beneficial. Most people love to be part of something. Being able to play a role for a team offers a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Also, you have to actually go to school to participate in after-school activities like sports. Students involved in athletics improve their behavior in class and have less opportunity to be involved in illegal activities during the critical hours immediately following school.

Yes, some media outlets broadcast athletes being arrested, prosecuted, going to prison, behaving inappropriately, etc. But, we don’t hear much about the vast majority of athletes who are solid citizens with strong character. That is the nature of society today.

However, children who play sports are more likely to achieve their goals and become productive members of society. Why? There are four primary reasons:

  1. Discipline – On Saturday night, we watched the Dawgs beat Clemson in a defensive struggle. The players were tired, hot, and bruised. Yet, their training over the months and years gave them the discipline to push forward despite the pain and adversity. We know that life presents multiple challenges. Those with the most discipline can more easily overcome those challenges during the game and in the game of life;
  2. Teamwork – Sports like football, baseball, and basketball require multiple players to form one cohesive unit. This takes a lot of time and practice. But, it is well worth it. When young athletes move on to their careers, many will be involved in team environments. A team is only as strong as the weakest link;
  3. Structure – In order to be the best we can be, we must follow the structure associated with a sport. For instance, a quarterback must receive or determine the next play, communicate that to his offense, and execute a series of steps in order to carry out a successful play. People who are accustomed to structure are less likely to commit crimes. This is because most crimes are perpetrated when a person acts out of unbridled passion. Structure and the thought of potential consequences curbs this emotion; and
  4. Work Ethic – Athletic endeavors require daily work in order to succeed. Those who are willing and able learn the solid value of hard work. Many theft crimes are committed when someone does not want to put the work in to achieve a goal. Most of the time, this goal is to obtain money, wealth, or other material assets. People who possess or are able to develop work ethic do not have the strong temptation to steal from others or become lazy adults.

When people engage in athletics, they are concentrating on an activity instead of searching for something to do. Oftentimes, that search can lead to dangerous choices.

Without sports, most kids would be totally different people. I have seen sports have a positive impact on all aspects of the lives of our children, who will soon be adults.

Early involvement in sports can oftentimes become the difference between state prison and a wholesome life.