The multiple benefits of participating in organized sports have certainly been previously extolled -- personal discipline, learning new skills, performing under pressure, et al -- but one seems to get shortchanged.
That is, being part of something bigger than yourself.
Talk about critical preparation for going out into the world!
When former high school and college players get together after a period of time lapses, what is talked about the most?
Funny stories, of course. A game winning shot or the critical pass or shotblock that led to victory. Other subjects typically include coming out on top when the odds weren't favorable or pushing a powerhouse to the very end in a loss.
But the underpinning to these memories whether said or unsaid is the sense of being part of a team, a unit that accomplished something. It's being a group that encountered what no one else did and the camaraderie that developed because of the shared experiences.
The sad part is that not all athletes understand this, meaning it's not something comprehensible to them either at the time or even afterwards as they go about their lives.
Plus, there are also the individuals who didn't stay long at any of their destinations of choice and thus missed out on the opportunity of bonding with others for life.
Another subset is those who were treated harshly or unfairly by a coach or their first coach (the one who recruited them) was fired at some point and they became the 'not-my-guys' individuals of the new staff.
So make your choice as wisely as possible because it's not necessarily all about playing time, signing bragging rights or getting on television as often as possible. The Band of Brothers (or Sisters) effect can last a lifetime.