There is no greater teacher of life lessons than participation in team sports. No matter if you are young or old, male or female, sports offers something for everyone, and I am no exception.
It feels as if my experiences playing baseball, football, basketball, and hockey have laid a foundation for virtually every situation that I have encountered in my adult life. The positive (and not so positive) events on the playing fields have provided me with valuable lessons on subjects such as teamwork, self-esteem, and speaking up for my beliefs.
Sports offered me a chance to step out of a sheltered world and into an environment with many diverse individuals. My first experiences with Little League baseball came when I played on a team with kids from similar backgrounds as myself. Teamwork came easily because we played with each other in the neighborhood and it was an smooth transition into organized competition.
As I got older, however, I had to learn how to interact with teammates that had a different view of what sports were all about. I learned that some guys were less concerned about the team's success and more concerned about their own personal goals and statistics. This philosophy was in direct contrast to everything my dad and my youth coaches had taught me; as they always stressed the importance of team play. And so I felt a need to let those players know (sometimes loudly and emotionally) that we were not going to be successful if individual accomplishments were more important than team goals.
Because I was able to stand up for myself and my teammates without help from the coaches, I discovered a level of confidence and earned a newfound respect from my teammates who believed I was right to confront the "ball hogs" or "spoiled brats".
Those lessons and experiences from team sports have had a lasting impact on how I view the world as an adult. I applaud unassuming intelligence, selflessness, introspection, teamwork, work ethic, being prepared, and basic old school friendliness. I abhor prejudice, egomania, bitterness, ignorance, apathy, and laziness. I see examples of all these traits every day in the business world, at home, or at school, and I always try to apply the positive values and concepts realized from participating in sports to lead me to a quality, successful, and happy existence.