The Daily Illini

Sports offer important life lessons

By Sriram Karumbunathan, Columnist

In high school, I played on the basketball team. I went to a small school, so making the team wasn’t too big of a problem. However, I was not nearly as in-shape as some of the other players, and after a few practices, I could tell how behind I was compared to everyone else. I had a lot to learn, and sometimes, the coaches would even make the team run more for my mistakes.

Despite my downfalls, my teammates never held it against me. I pushed myself harder because of this, knowing that people were relying on me to improve. Teams that work in a competitive environment tend to push each other to be their best.

On a competitive team, there’s a sense of responsibility instilled in each player; everyone knows that if someone isn’t working equally as hard, then their teammates will hold them accountable.

For example, if I was working out by myself, on a schedule, skipping a day does not seem like that big of a deal. In my mind, I’ll just go the next day. However, when I’m on a team, I know that my teammates will hold me accountable for skipping — I can’t just make it up the next day because I’m already a day behind.

Your teammates can also push you to be your best. If they see something wrong, they’ll usually try to help you improve. Our coach often left us as players to reflect on our own. Everyone would speak their mind about what was wrong in the team, and this would help us grow. And it’s not placing blame on one another; my teammates hoped I improved from my mistakes. If they know you can play better, they won’t hold back their thoughts.

This is where learning to work with people in this type of environment, one where success is necessary, is a skill for life. In the workplace or somewhere similar, you must learn to work with people whose personalities don’t mix with your own. The same goes for a competitive team environment; though your personalities may not mix, the team is at its peak potential if you work together.

Overall, college is a great place to gain this experience. There are plenty of intramural teams and clubs that bring people together to compete. It isn’t necessarily always sports, but these clubs each have their own goals and dreams of winning. They are easily accessible while we’re still in college, so it is definitely worth trying to join one.

Looking to sports is something that taught me important life lessons and is often what I look back to help me find motivation. This isn’t to say the answer to life is in intramural basketball or confined to sports in particular. But for me, it’s something I’ll always hold close.

Sriram is a junior in Engineering. 

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