The Power of Sports in Community Building

Ryan Cunningham Superintendent

Let’s play ball! Most people think first of the health and wellness benefits that come with participation in team sports, both physical and mental. But participation in sports is also a powerful tool for bringing people together and strengthening a community through teamwork and fun. Ryan Cunningham Superintendent explores the power of sports in community building.

Sports are Fun and Relieve Stress

First and foremost, sports are fun! Physical activity can release endorphins (the “happy” chemicals) and relieve stress. People who are experiencing less stress are more open to new ideas, connecting with others, having hope for the future, believing in themselves and others, and they are generally better and more engaged members of their community.

Sports Promote Inclusive Communities

One can’t have a sports team without players! The days of being the last one picked for the gym class volleyball team are over. When one joins a community sport, one is usually welcomed to participate as all hands are needed on deck.

And sports can be a great equalizer as they are of interest to people of different gender expressions, races, classes, sexual orientations, religions, and more. Everyone loves a good ball game, no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they look like.

By extension, sports also champion diversity in a community. A team needs many different players with many different skills. Sports can encourage us to celebrate differences rather than shy away from them and can open the door for conversations among people from all walks of life.

Sports Encourage Safe and Healthy Recreation

Children and young adults who might otherwise get into trouble can find a safe and healthy recreational outlet in community sports. Frankly, sports are a smart way to keep kids “off the streets,” therefore creating a stronger, safer, more sustainable community for generations to come. Sports practices also teach young people the importance of teamwork and responsibility.

Ryan Cunningham Superintendent

Sports Strengthen Community Pride

At a local, regional, state, and even national level, one always wants to “root, root, root for the home team,” as they say in the classic song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame!” Accomplishing feats both great and small on the sports field or court can bring out a natural sense of pride in players, and if the team is from one’s community, that pride will extend naturally to the whole group. The sound of a cheering crowd, a ball hitting a net, or a bat cracking a home run can get the whole community to rally together!

How and Where to Participate in Community Sports

If one is looking to participate in community sports, the local YMCA could be a great place to start. One could also contact their municipal recreation center or office to see what is available. Or even head to the local park and see if a pick-up game is happening! The power of sports in community building is proven – one just needs to take the first step and get involved.

Ryan Cunningham
Ryan Cunningham Michigan