Going for the Gold—How Competitive Sports Pay Off for Life

You’ve heard it before and chances are, you’ll hear it again: No Guts. No Glory. But there’s a reason this cliché stays current in student athletics. It’s true. In competitive sports, the bottom line is, you really have to want it to make it work for you in the long run.

Really wanting it means a total commitment; putting everything you have in striving to be the best athlete you can. Passion and performance go hand in hand, no matter what game you play. If you aren’t passionate, you won’t perform to the best of your ability. And being passionate means being disciplined, being your own cheerleader and champion at once. Being passionate means being willing to sacrifice—tournaments and competitions may conflict with special events and long weekends. As a student athlete, it’s all up to you in terms of how much you choose to commit. Sometimes it’s not easy and sometimes it’s downright hard.

But here’s the good news: playing competitive sports in high school and college not only earns you some pretty great scholarship opportunities, it also makes you a pretty exceptional person with advantages for life. How?

First, competitive sports build confidence. When you are confident, it shows your strength of purpose. Confidence opens doors in unexpected ways; future employers will note your sports record and recognize that you are someone who they want on their team—because you have demonstrated a personal drive to succeed, the desire to win.

Second, competitive sports foster independence. Strong athletes know how to take the initiative; they already advocate for themselves. Again, when an employer considers hiring you, that independent spirit is an asset; it tells someone you are not afraid of trying, that you are ready to give it your best shot.

Third, competitive sports support maturity. Student athletes need to engage with adults to improve skills and pursue their goals. In turn, this generates an appropriate sense of equality: that you can work effectively with diverse people. In life, as in sports, you will encounter all sorts of personalities in social settings and in the workplace. Knowing how to deal with people and staying true to who you are is a lifelong skill that athletes get an early jump on. For female athletes in particular, this sense of fair play and equality can really level the playing field in personal and professional settings—from dating to working, you should expect respect in every arena.

Finally, the value of healthy competition far outweighs passing sacrifices. The daily grind of practice, the excitement of the game, the thrill of victory are all character-forming experiences and what you take away from them will last you a lifetime. So: no guts, no glory? You bet!