SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – When it comes to having fun playing sports, winning isn’t everything. That’s according to a new study funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research. Out of 81 “fun” factors, the most important was being a good sport.
“After every game, the teams shake hands. You find sometimes the parents or even some of the coaches will take it real serious, but the kids are always low-key. Kids are always shaking hands afterwards and really enjoying the experience,” said Belchertown River Rats baseball coach Joe Bachand.
Positive coaching also ranked high. 22News went to a baseball tournament at Springfield’s Forest Park to find out what made the game fun for athletes, parents and coaches.
“We practice during the week and do the routine fundamental things to play the game, but we also allow them a little bit of leeway to have fun and be themselves out in the field so whether it’s in the game or at practice, we’ve kept it loose all year long and it’s been very successful for us,” Belchertown River Rats baseball coach Ed Medina told 22News.
Researchers said this study is important in helping kids stay active. One in three children and teenagers in the U.S. are considered overweight. If coaches know what makes the game fun, they might be able to lower that statistic. Kids tend to stop playing sports if they’re not having fun.
“They all love to win, but at the same time, we always tell our kids and their friends that it’s mostly about having fun,” said Agawam Huskies baseball mom Amy Wesley.
The Western Mass Rebels said it is most fun to be playing ball with friends.
“When our team is batting, we do like cheers and stuff and if they strike out, we go and give them high fives so we can stop them…pick everybody up,” said Isaiah Ramos, who plays on the Western Mass Rebels baseball team.
They boost morale with chants. Although the “winning factor” ranked low on the fun list, everyone agreed: it’s always an added bonus to win.