The Community-Building Power of Sport
We all know the health beneﬁts of sport: it decreases stress, reduces the likelihood of developing a chronic disease and can protect the body from injury. But what we often don't think about is how powerful sport is as a tool for building community.
Here are just some of the ways sport builds communities:
Sport Brings People Together
Whether it is in the arena or on the ﬁeld, around the work water cooler or in front of the TV, sport naturally brings people together to socialize, communicate, compete and celebrate. Even when we are cheering for opposing teams, we enjoy cheering and jeering together in shared spaces. Sport can bring players and athletes of all ability levels together, but the role sport plays in bringing audiences and families together around a shared experience is also just as powerful.
Sport Can Improve Our Collective Mental Health
Being physically active improves our individual overall well‐being, but I also believe it improves our collective well‐being too. Sport promotes the belief that, as humans, we can overcome challenges, we can make dreams become reality and we can hope that all of that hard work is worth it in the end. With hope, we can achieve anything.
Sport Strengthens National Pride
I don't know about you, but when I see the Olympic clothing gear released every few years, I can't help but get excited. When we come together as a country to cheer for the homegrown hero, we band together in a unique way, remembering just how great our country is. When we hear the sound of a roaring crowd after the goal scored or a record is broken, we animate a collective pride in our athletes and the values we hold dear.
Sport Promotes Inclusion Through A Celebration of Diversity
While sport supports patriotism, it also facilitates inclusion, whether that be an increase in participation by diverse groups or greater exposure to sports featuring athletes with disabilities. Through events like the Olympics, we get exposed to new cultures, new ways of thinking and diﬀerent abilities. Sport reminds us that there is more that binds us together than separates us, and promotes the values and skills of teamwork, cooperation, mutual respect and acceptance.
Sport is Just Plain Fun
The joy of sport is inescapable. The energy, the fast pace, the competition, the friendly rivalries, the bloopers, the jokes––it's all just so much fun. And when we are happier and having fun, we all are better together.
A version of this blog originally appeared on the YMCA of Greater Vancouver's website.