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Well, here in the US, if your child has not joined some sort of team (soccer, tee ball, hockey, etc) in pre-school, they are considered oddities. Sports seem to play a heavy role in most educational systems - for what reason, I don't know. One would think that academics would be far more important. However, I suspect the reasoning is that there are fewer very smart children than children who can play some sort of sport. Also, sports are supposed to socialize children - i.e. teach them to be team players, rather than individualists.

I was not good at sports - and I am not a very good team player. I would focus on academics. My husband, however, would probably consider the strength of the sports program. We're trying different programs for our daughter's entertainment (swim lessons, dance, soccer) and if she shows definite interest, we follow through, but that's as far as we've gotten. Good luck working this out!

The only reason I can think of is that there may be more opportunities for college scholarships? Otherwise, it sounds like all of that competitive crap I don't care for that much (my older son does play sports, because he likes it, but I feel a little out of place because I have an "it's only a game" mentality which doesn't seem to be the way it is done).

I wouldn't necessarily choose a school for the sports programme BUT I do think it's important to at least dabble in a team sport for a few years.

I like that it teaches them self-discipline, "sucking it up" and of course, teamwork.

P.S. I am also useless at it and so is my hubby - hopefully our kids inherited from the family somewhere :)

I had parents that decided I had no affinity for sport(s). And today I wish that I could actually do something more exciting than a jog around the block or a lame-ass gym class, like meet someone for some tennis or squash, even if it is a bad, really 5th team game or join a game of girls' soccer during lunch break (my previous employer had a soccer field right next to the building). Even a person with the worst ball sense needs to find that balance of body. On the other hand, being a nerd and overweight did not help my case (and you know, chess counted as both a summer and winter sport so nobody could force me to do anything). I believe in your twins' case, they may not have that burden (pun alert) weighing them down, making the no-sport thing a less important matter. Ultimately, don't close that door for them though. You don't need a school with good sport, you just need them to get moving and have fun, hopefully, while doing it. Let them do something different like karate (Kate...) or horse riding or squash (awesome game to play until you are really, really old but so healthy) or paddling. Yes it may cost a bit extra as it may be private, not through school, but it may just end up being something which they really love. And be warned that they will want to quit at some point and then it will be character building time...

I think it's a bit of an exageration to say that kids in the U.S. are ocnsidered oddities if they haven't done sports in preschool. While a great many kids DO participate in team sports in preschool, a great many also do not, with many having their first experiences with sports at school, first in the form of gym class and maybe later, in joining teams (usually 5th grade and up).

My 10-year-old 5th grader just recently finished her first sports season as a beginner on the middle school tennis team. No, she wasn't any good, but she enjoyed it thoroughly. I think she is lucky because she goes to a small school where participation is encouraged whether or not one excels at a sport. It's true that if you don't get into it early, at some schools you can't really get into it at all because the kids who DO get into it early will take up all the spots and newbies won't have an opportunity to learn, unless they learn outside of school.

But I wouldn't choose a school based on sports, not for a second. If sports become important to either of your kids, there are usually lots of avenues for sports outside of school, if school doesn't do the trick. And for that matter, there are often opportunities within schools to participate in less popular sports even when the high visibility sports are closed to beginners.

I am also not much of an athlete--I was good at ballet, so I think I probably am reasonably coordinated/capable, but I never had any interest.

I am good at sports and grew up as my dad's sports buddy.My mother just watches them with one eye on TV. Sports were an outlet for a kid who was socially awkward and shy. I didn't know how to converse with the "it" girls ,but i could kick their ass at tether-ball and kickball. It scored points for me in their eyes and made my over accomplishment in academic less geeky.

I learned how to get along with all types of kids from the dumb jock to the mean girls.On the playing field everyone is equal. You can talk shit all you want,but that doesn't help you score a goal or win cross-country.

Little kids play sport because it's fun to be with other kids. Parents make it not fun. They become more physically coordinated which makes for better dancers:) Plus they are more in tune with what this body can do. The self discipline and determination is wonderful for life as career professionals as well. Exercise for the mind and body that's free and healthy. Sports put all that energy that reeks havoc at home and in the class room to a positive use and they are out like a light at bedtime.

Gives parents a break and me time!


Wins give them a sense of accomplishment and positive self esteem. The team/tribe spirit can follow them through their schools years and into adulthood an can help them feel safe, protected and belong.

Some schools like my high school have other sports like the chess team, tennis, swim teams, debate team. it was more of a arts type school, which i think caused me to go crazy in college as a fanatical football,baseball,soccer,rugby,etc. fan.

As a teacher, here are my 5 cents worth:

Firstly, movement is essential for brain development. Without movement (notice - it's not about competition or ability!) the brain fails to produce a particular set of hormones that will enable better connections to be made in the brain - which has knock-on effects for memory and problem-solving.

Secondly, movement facilitates body development. Proper growth patterns are only established if a child receives 3 things: enough food, enough sleep, and enough movement. This develops things like the body map (which is linked to eye-hand and eye-foot co=ordination, balance, etc).

Thirdly, gross movement is essential fr developing fine motor skills. Kids who don't move around regularly have problems with their reading and writing. Fact.

Fourthly, getting involved in a team sport does facilitate skills such as learning to work as part of a team, negotiation, conflict management, learning to win or lose gracefully, perseverance, dependability, integrity... the list goes on, but I really don't want to list them all.

Fifthly, movement helps stave off childhood obesity, which is on the increase (dramatically so in countries like the USA, UK and SA). Childhood obesity has been blamed for the increase we see in childhood diabetes, asthma, and even for some allergies.

Sixthly, it is important (as a previous comment mentioned) for adult life as playing a social sport teaches skills that will enable your child to remain active until they die. Research shows that it is healthier to eat pizza with friends than salads on your own. What this means is that in order to prevent premature death it is more essential for older adults to have an active social life than it is to eat healthily. Sports facilitates that.

Seventhly, it's (supposed to be) fun.

It really does not matter whether your child is GOOD at a sport, or has any ability in the sport. What is very important though, if finding something they ENJOY doing. If they enjoy what they do, they will persevere, even if they're not good.

Thus, when looking at a school, don't look for one that is "good at sport", find a school that offers a WIDE VARIETY of sports (as well as a school that has a wide variety of cultural activities, because those activities also promote social skills and brain development). The more sports it offers, the more likely your child is to find something s/he enjoys. It really doesn't matter whether that school is top of the league, or bottom.

If that's not an option for you, or your kid really and truly absolutely hates all the sports on offer at the school, then ensure that you get your kids moving in some other way - through sports clubs, dance classes, swimming lessons, judo, rock climbing, surfing, scuba diving, or simply playing at Jimmy Jungles at least once a week - whatever, just as long as they are moving.

Well you know how I almost killed myself over Daniel's high school and I hope it was the right choice. Choosing Primary school not as NB as high school.
Our darling kids are never gonna get colours for any sport so I wouldn't make sport a priority in choosing a school. BUT, they must play a sport. 1 winter and 1 summer and they must finish the year. The life lessons are enormous regardless of which team they play for.
Daniel not great at all but he has fun and stays healthy.
Rebeka is average but participates in everything.
Sofia, well, we pin our hopes on her for next year!
I would let both your kids do horse riding. It would suit both of them for different reasons although it will make you poor. The trick is finding what suits each child and encouraging them in that direction.

I believe all children should do something that encourages them to move, whether team sport or not. If skipping rope is what the child likes, then let that be the movement activity. I also believe that children should learn to swim if at all possible as a matter of safety. I also believe that children should be given the opportunity to do some activity in which a group works toward a common goal--be it team sports, an orchestra, a school play, the Scouts (is that Guides in South Africa?). A few children won't like any group participation activities, but I think they should be given a chance to see if it suits them. I agree with the commenter who says pick a school with a variety of activities whenever possible.

Haven't read all the other posts but as a (non-teaching) teacher I feel that it is so important to do at least one summer and one winter sport. It teaches kiddies so much, how to be part of a team, how different positions suit different people and their strength, how winning ISN'T everything, how to win and lose, team spirit, disappointment at not being chosen for the B team, excitement when they do make it into the team, how to work hard not just for yourself and for friendship!
As well as the exercise and benefits that go along with that!
If your kiddies aren't particulary sporty I wouldn't 'choose' a school based on their sports but I would suggest a variety of sports for them to choose from.
This is also an area where I feel you need to commit to and see it through the season, I was in the stop aftercare camp when they weren't happy BUT not with sport, if you choose it, you do it for the term and the team!

I think it's important for kids to have an opportunity to play sports, and also important for kids to have some kind of exercise every day at school. But I don't think it's important to choose a school that's "good at sport" unless a particular sport is very important to your child (either because s/he is very talented at it, or s/he is passionate about it).

I think it's important for kids to have an activity (outside of academics) that they enjoy, but it doesn't necessarily have to be sports. I did piano lessons, marching band, and theater in Jr. High and High School. My one foray into sports (field hockey) was an embarrassment... not that I regret it, but I wasn't good at it, and didn't feel it was my "thing." So, I don't think "sports" is necessary, nor even desirable, for everyone. (I do, of course, believe that *physical activity* is important, but it doesn't have to be competitive sports... it could be dance; it could be going on hikes or walks with parents, it could be camping trips with the Scouts...)

I have my almost 6 yo in sports (soccer and hockey) for a couple of reasons. One is that the kid has way too much energy and these activities suck up a fair amount. Also, because he enjoys it. And because it gives us an opportunity to say "wow! what a good job you did!" My hope is that being involved in sports gives him a sense of accomplishment and discipline.

However, it is only one of many possible means to an end. If he didn't enjoy sports there are endless other ways to go about building self esteem. I would not/do not choose a school based on their athletic record. Academics are first. We do our sports outside of school.

I was not keen on sports as a child and in fact would much rather have read all the time, but i did spend lots of time hiking and skiing (x-country) with my parents. I think it grounded me and enabled me to be in my body. I think that it gave me confidence. In retrospect, I also see how it developed endurance, which I also think builds confidence for many different applications later in life...I think sports are not so important but being able to navigate the physical realm and endurance are very beneficial.

This will be a great and excellent article ,Its very usefull And interesting too...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpV5bFP657I Kids just love to go Horse riding...i think they will enjoy a lot with this ...Thanks for sharing!!!!

It seems nobody has really answered your question as to why it's important to choose a SCHOOL that's "good at sports" :)
I can't say I know the answer, but I'm going to hazard a guess here. My husband went to one of those fancy boys' private schools that are "good at sport" And although HE wasn't good at sport, he was surrounded by a culture of pride (in oneself and one's roots) and camaraderie because of it. They were taught to support their team no matter what and had to be at each match - dressed neatly in their school uniforms to show their support. This naturally spilled over into the rest of their lives. It's been over 15 years since he was at school and he's still fiercely proud of his school and his friends.
That said, i don't know if it's "necessary" to have this in life, but some people seem to put a high value on it!

Hello Tertia, my four eggs: I went to a school which was "good at sports", and I hated it because I had no natural ability and was constantly the bottom of the barrel. If the twins aren't particularly interested, surely it would be better to pick a school for other factors which are more applicable to them such as academic record, development of the individual, art/theatre, music facilities etc?

I've just given up forcing team sports on my 8 year old and now let him do what makes him happy (mainly art and chess : )). Yes, I think it's important that children are active and fit and have physical confidence, and for that reason he goes rollerblading, swimming, skiing etc. Yes, I think children should have the opportunity to work as a team, but they can also get that from orchestras, drama groups etc.

Personally I think sport's great, but it's not the top priority for every child. Hope this helps.

Just want to say that I'm SO with Kate on her comment ;) Well said!

Sport is important because it mirrors life in so many ways. Winning, losing, goal setting, team work etc. It teaches kids (who become adults) how to deal with setbacks, how to win gracefully and how to lose gracefully.

Having said that its not the most important thing to consider when choosing a school although schools that are good at both sport and academics usually show more balance which is important for the kids.

Ok, my thoughts - the closest school to home should always at least be considered, unless it is really bad. Kids make friends in their area - it is important. Secondly, I would not go to a school that is strong in one way or another - most schools have sport and unless a child is a future Springbok, it does not matter where he/she do their sport. I look out for a school that have options for all types of kids - be it sport, academic, music or drama. A well rounded child needs a well rounded school that caters for all.

Is being "good at sports" important?

Nope. Good to have a sports program, and lots of options are a plus, but it seems that even if the school has poor sports offerings, this is something that can be supplemented outside of school, if your kids show aptitude.

Important is....basic academics, and ability to accomodate all kinds of learners, and make all feel welcome and on track to perform to the best of their abilities.

I defnitely don't think you should choose a school for its sports, unless you are convinced your children are national colour material, which, judging from your post, they probably aren't. I was a complete hopeless at sport - always the last to be chosen in PE class for volleyball, rounders etc and never made it to the sports team in primary school. When I went to high school we were a new school with limited numbers and EVERYONE had to particpate in everything to make up numbers. I loved it, because at last I knew how it felt to participate for my school and in a team. Like the other posters say, sport is important for a child's development, but not at the cost of academics. In primary school my son who is not interested in sport at all and also not very athletic, did some athletics field items, and was quite okay in rugby. he now goes to a very small private high school with very few sporting activities. They have PE twice a week, and he plays golf extramurally. I have a friend who has a sports crazy child who decided to put him in the state school because of sport. For me, academics are most important, especially in high school.

There seems to be a attitude here that a child can't both excel in sports and academics. They can! At least here in the US if you watch college FB or BB there are a good number of players who put up high scores both on and off the court.

My mother was not very supportive of my interest in sports, because SHE herself didn't like them. I remember the arguments and my father insisting that she put aside her lack of enthusiasm and take me to lessons or practice. She grumbled the whole drive over,but i got to participate.

I wish there was a balance of men amongst the commentors.

As one of the female children of Italian immigrant parents in Canada, I was not allowed to participate in sports until the nuns convinced the parents that girls also needed to do sports.

I loved it all.

My husband did not participate in any organized sports cause in Southern Italy during his childhood there weren't any sports to join (not even soccer/football).

Having said that, my son does 1 hour of gym a week and it's definitely not enough. As we go to the beach every year, it was very important for us to make sure he learned how to swim, so he takes swim lessons 2xwk. Since his love of football/soccer is so great, he is also on a team. He is in 3rd grade and so far has all A's and B's.

My son is adopted and I think the sports help him overcome his sometimes low self-esteem (he is a really good sportsman - asked to be on the swim team, always sought after for the football games) and it has helped him to be accepted in our communities (he is black, we live in Italy, very little multiculturism or diversity).

I think sports helps round out children and teaches them how to play properly and sportsman-like conduct (unless you have them play football/soccer in Italy and then you have to deal with lunatic soccer moms who you are ashamed to even have next to you!).

Some of our friends have their kids in judo or karate for self-esteem, it doesn't seem to be exciting enough for our boy...he needs to run and run and score a goal LOL!

I never worried about sports when deciding where to live. Here (in my state in the US), you go to the school are zoned for, which is normally closest to your house. I only worried over academics. BUT, my dd's high school is also a great sports school. My dd plays varsity golf.

My kids have been in sports since 3. They are 14 and 9 now and we wouldn't think of not having them in sports. It's good for them for many reasons - team activities, exercise and it keeps them out of trouble.

I think it's important for kids to have a "thing" other than just schoolwork, but I don't at all think it's necessary for that thing to be sports. Could be dance, choir, band, drama club, whatever. As someone like yourself (the world was always better off the farther away from the sports fields I stayed), it always bothered me how so many people talk like someone who doesn't do sports is less of a person because of it. That said, if your kids are really passionate about a sport, it makes sense to find them a school with a good program. But if they couldn't care less about sports, no need for you to care about it either!

Go for the school closest to you, that's the best advice I was given. All schools in SA have a sport programme, if they really excel at something and the school is not good enough, you can always join a club. The closest school makes so much sense (unless it is totally crap).

Nixgrim wrote:

"Thus, when looking at a school, don't look for one that is "good at sport", find a school that offers a WIDE VARIETY of sports (as well as a school that has a wide variety of cultural activities, because those activities also promote social skills and brain development). The more sports it offers, the more likely your child is to find something s/he enjoys. It really doesn't matter whether that school is top of the league, or bottom."

I totally agree. I played soccer and basketball when I was in high school. I went to a small school and the soccer team was ok but basketball was terrible. We lost every game my senior year. And losing all the time was a drag but I learned a lot, made friends, was in great shape, and actually had a lot of fun playing anyway. I also learned a lot about setting personal goals for myself and managing disappointment. And honestly, the advantage of the teams not being too competitive was that I got to play even though I wasn't super-talented. If your kids go to a "good at sport" school but are only average players they might not make the team anyway. I can see if a child is showing a real talent for a particular sport you'd want to find a school that could develop his/her potential, but I don't think for most kids that's evident at age 5.


I was chatting to a few friends recently about the importance of children doing sport and it was not as smooth as it was supposed to go. There were many different views on why sport should or should not be done. Sport doesnt have to be on a sports field doing the rough and tough physical things. Drama for instance is just as good. I raised this discussion amoung a group http://www.risingchild.com/group/viewdiscussion/173-How+do+I+get+my+children+interested+in+doing+sport?groupid=41 and tried to find out what other people thought. I have seen a great deal of interesting points from each persons posts here.

I never know how to get kids involved or motivate them to do something. I think it is something that they should decide on. That way they will achieve better and have their whole heart in it because it is what they really want. What do you think?

Ethan told me emphatically that he HATES sports. He begged me to please take him out of soccer, cause he does NOT like the game at all. He bargained up to a point where he said "ok i'll do play ball, but just till Christmas, no more after" So I hear you. Not all kids are sporty kids..and why the heck should they be..not all kids are brainy kids after all. You need to do whats right for your child and nurture them into the direction they excell at. We already place too much pressure on our kids to excel and perform. What happened to "enjoy life and be a kid" they have their whole lives to prove themselves to the world.

Speaking as a SA parent, do not choose a school that is very competitive in sports and known as one of the schools that feeds the national teams with athletes. The kids that are good at sports in those schools get extra attention (even though the school will deny it) and kids who are not good at sports will feel inadequate. Choose a school that has a varied sports/cultural program but where sport isn't a priority - where participation is more important than winning.

Been there with my kid who loves to play sport but hasn't got that "winning at all costs" mentality. Sport at school level should encourage physical activity to build the gross/fine motor skills, give them some team spirit and mostly be fun and stress relieving. At the end of their school career they should look back with fond memories of the sports and get on with life...btw, the same goes for academics. Let the kids have fun learning and they will naturally do well in the subjects they enjoy which will give them a better understanding of who they are and what to do when they leave school. Those kids that study hard at all costs and neglect their overall life (socialising etc) are not necessarily successful later in life and usually have spent so much time learning the textbook stuff that they lose sight of where their talents lie.

No-one said raising kids was easy but I believe that if you give them enough opportunities to be exposed to a variety of sports and interests that they will be better equipped to know themselves.

My son never had an interest in team sports but loved dancing. He's now doing very well at university and, yes, he's in a dance troop!

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