Reflecting on How Sports Influences Character

Sports are a big part of culture in the United States and across the world and often play an important role in our lives – whether one participates at the professional level or in pick-up games, watches sports on TV or drives the soccer carpool. It is commonly said that sports build character, but we hear more and more accounts of un-sportsmanlike, unethical, and even illegal conduct at all levels of athletic competition.

We asked a group of colleagues, family and friends to tell us how they felt sports had affected their character and what lessons they had learned through sports – either negative or positive. The qualities mentioned included teamwork, leadership, honesty, responsibility, patience, self-confidence, persistence, sportsmanship, and respect. The following are some of their reflections on the ways in which playing sports have affected their lives. (Please note: instead of using full names, we have listed the contributor’s initials after each set of remarks. Most of the respondents were men and women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. )

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