How Youth Team Sports are Shaping Kids' and Teens' Values On and Off the Field



2016 will be remembered for is its exciting and emotional highlights of sports teams working together to achieve new heights, from hometown heroes to some of sports history's greatest athletes.

Whether it's a neighborhood scrimmage or a national championship, experts agree that the benefits of belonging to a team are significant, and they range well beyond physical exercise. These important experiences teach lessons that help shape kids and teens' outlooks about themselves, working with others and the world around them.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America, through its national partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings, has introduced tens of thousands of kids and teens to various sports through its popular ALL STARS program. ALL STARS is Boys & Girls Clubs of America's leading team sports program, offering opportunities for Clubs around the country to organize football, basketball, cheer, dance and step programs.

Based on observations from participating Clubs around the country, here are the top life lessons instilled by being part of a team and how participation can help kids and teens feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Teamwork: By working together on a team, kids and teens can learn not only how to lead, but also how to follow directions. The ability to work well with others will help them at home, at school and at game time. Young people also experience the satisfaction of working together toward a common goal, which is an essential skill to learn for successes down the road.

Sportsmanship: Whether in sports, with family and friends, or at the workplace, it's important to know how to properly handle winning and losing. Kids and teens who learn that it's okay to lose – and how to act when they do, gain an important skill to help them throughout their life. Through sports, they can learn to play fair, act with humility and handle both victory and defeat with grace, style and dignity.

Strong character: By mastering athletic skills, players gain self-confidence that carries through to the real world. By practicing regularly they learn discipline and responsibility. By playing in a fast-paced game, kids and teens learn to handle stressful situations and make quick decisions. By being part of a team, young people experience a sense of belonging while building valuable friendships. What's more, when parents and caregivers gather to watch games, it can strengthen communities and provide a sense of unity.

Healthy lifestyles: Three out of 10 youth are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Finding fun ways to keep kids and teens active will help fight this growing epidemic. Team sports provide a great opportunity for young people to get moving. Because it's fun, they often don't even realize its exercise. By promoting an active lifestyle from an early age, caregivers can help today's youth learn healthy habits that can have a lifelong impact.

Practice makes perfect: No one throws a perfect spiral or hits a three-pointer the first time they try. To improve at sports, you need to practice. Sports teach kids and teens that if they want something, they have to work for it. Practice and proper preparation are key skills throughout life – whether for a big game, big test at school or any of life's big challenges.

Want to help encourage kids and teens in your community to play team sports and learn these important life lessons? It can be as easy as visiting a local restaurant. Through its Team Up for Kids initiative, Buffalo Wild Wings supports ALL STARS, helping to teach sportsmanship, promote positive self-image, build character and encourage healthy, active lifestyles of our nation's young people. Buffalo Wild Wings' guests can support this important cause with the purchase of sauce and seasoning bottles sold in-store or online, with $1 from each purchase going directly to Boys & Girls Clubs of America. By 2020, Buffalo Wild Wings will have donated more than $16 million to fund football, basketball, cheer, dance and step programs, as well as facility renovations at local Boys & Girls Clubs through ALL STARS grants.To learn more, visit