I was reading a newspaper article the other day hyping a slew of new books celebrating or criticizing our nation’s obsession with football. One quote from a former player caught my attention. He stated that football “teaches one thing that kids can’t get anywhere else . . . how to get knocked down and get back up.” I admit, this comment got under my skin. Never mind that it implies that girls either don’t need or will never gain this ability, but to suggest that football is the only way to teach even boys how to be resilient is also ridiculous.
I do not wish to debate the value of high school sports or to slight anyone who played them, but I would argue that some of the most resilient kids I know are not athletes, but young artists of all kinds. It’s one thing to know that when you get knocked down on the field, your teammates’ hands will extend to help you up; that your coach will always be there to guide you; that your fans will pack the stands to support you; that an entire cheerleading squad will rally behind you.
It’s another thing to work in isolation, as many youth artists do. To spend hours alone in a room with only their creative juices to fuel their efforts; to work for months on a single project, never knowing for sure if it’s any good; to sleep with fingers crossed praying for that coveted role or sought-after solo; to receive rejection after rejection and never give up.
When a football player wins big, he’s met with a round of applause in class the next day. When a young writer gets her story picked up by the school literary magazine, no one hears about it. When a young artist gets his painting hung in a local galley, the student body does not rush to see it. There are no jerseys identifying the truly talented artists walking the school halls. And still they persevere. And that, my friend, is true resilience.
So I would argue if you really want to “toughen up your kid,” you don’t just look to sports. Look to the arts as well. And here’s an additional bonus . . . instead of suffering through possible concussions or head injuries, your child will actually increase his cognitive ability. Just sayin’.