You want your child to be active and to have fun. Research shows that’s exactly what they want, too.
A Michigan State University study asked boys and girls aged 10 to 12 why they played sports. Here are the top five reasons they gave:
1. To have fun.
2. To do something I’m good at.
3. To improve my skills.
4. To stay in shape.
5. To get exercise.
Surprise: “winning” didn’t even make the top 10 reasons.
Study after study comes up with the same #1 result. Kids play sports for the fun of it. And not having fun is one of the major reasons 70 percent of kids quit playing sports by the time they’re 13.
Most often it’s parents and coaches who want to win. Kids hardly care. For them, winning is just icing on the cake. They’re focused on simpler things. Even at the high school level, most kids would rather play on a losing team than sit on the bench of a winning one. That doesn’t mean that kids don’t value winning, just that they prefer playing.
If you want your children to play sports, all you have to do is make sure they’re having fun.
Ed. note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly named University of Michigan as the source of the research. In fact, the study was conducted by the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University.