Kids from poverty stricken neighborhoods and broken homes can learn the qualities of good character through athletics. Kids learn how to work in teams, to be hardworking, to set goals and even understand responsibility for the first time.

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Growing up in inner-city areas can have detrimental effects on adolescents, but those who choose to pursue athletics may find themselves able to overcome their demographic struggles and develop strong character traits along the way.


Hard work, dedication, perseverance and responsibility.

Sounds like the prototypical puffery a prospective employee may put on their application in order to get the job.

These qualities are often thrown around carelessly, and sometimes we don’t take the time to ponder exactly where we learn these behaviors.

No doubt, we learn these things from our parents, right? We live with our parents for 18 years, and they teach us, or at least they should teach us, to be hardworking, dedicated and persevering.

However, there are plenty of children who come from broken homes, and they may not have received these lessons from their parents effectively.

I believe these qualities can also be learned through sports. Plenty of children who come from a broken home and a tough neighborhood may struggle learning certain behaviors.

Sports can supplement a child’s character development; sports can bring people together from different cultures, beliefs, ethnicities and socio-economic standings, giving them one common goal.

Some people may think of sports as just a game, but in reality, they often instill the values of hard work and perseverance.

Sports can be a layer of protection from the trouble that will undoubtedly be waiting for kids growing up in poverty-stricken neighborhoods like North St. Louis. In neighborhoods full of gang activity and crime, the natural thing for a child born there is just to join in the negativity.

That was surely the path for me, until I started playing football.

I had a daily escape for two hours from the streets, which stopped me from doing the wrong things that most kids my age had already begun doing.

My friends would get out of school and get into trouble in the neighborhood, while I was headed to football practice to do countless push-ups and core exercises.

I can still hear my friend’s voice in my head: “Come on Cam let’s break the windows in the vacant building, I gotta whole buncha rocks.” I had to decline these invitations because of football practice.

Sports is what saved me from my predestined route of leaving high school and working at the local McDonald’s or selling drugs while living paycheck to paycheck.

I was able to take the values of hard work, dedication and responsibility and use them as tools to get into college, which is a miracle where I come from.

I have sports to thank for my college career and the new upward trajectory of my life, which is why I know sports is more than just a game. The values and lessons learned can and will last a lifetime.

By Cam Cosey

Cam Cosey is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline from St. Louis. He is pursuing a degree in communications studies with a minor in journalism. Cam also plays on the MBU football team. After graduating Cam plans to write for a news outlet while training to play pro football abroad.