A new reason to play sports
It’s no secret that sports can help keep us healthy and happy. What’s often overlooked is the extra benefit we get from participating on a team.
“A study by Keith Zullig and Rebecca White (2010) was recently reported, finding that US adolescents (7th and 8th graders) who participated in team sports rated both their life satisfaction and physical health more highly than did their peers who did not participate in team sports. The research was regrettably stark, relying just on self-report and gathering all information at a single point in time. The temptation is of course to conclude that participation in team sports causes happiness and health, but things could be the other way around. Or some unmeasured third variable like being coordinated or having access to resources could be responsible for the apparent associations.
Be that as it may, the patterns held for males and females, and an additional finding was that vigorous physical activity (not necessarily participation in team sports) was linked to happiness and health among females but not males. So maybe we can say that there is something about being on a team that is beneficial.”
When the late Positive Psychology PhD Professor Chistopher Peterson, author of the above quote, summed up his 341 page book “Pursuing the Good Life,” he simply said “Other people matter.”
The pursuit of happiness is not an individualistic one.
Fortunately with today social connectivity, and a trend towards more open and friendly cultures, it is easier than ever to find people to work out and play with. Although it depends on the sport, city, and particular group, pick-up games are generally very welcoming to newcomers and beginners.
Check out a team sport gathering in your community, or organize one of your own with friends. Need some help finding one? Meetup.com is a great resource. If you cannot find what you want, try starting your own meetup. Googling “pick-up + sport name” is also a great way to find locals. Different sports have their own online resources, such as pickupultimate.com, and companies have created collections of mobile apps (InfiniteHoops, InfiniteSoftball, InfiniteHockey, InfiniteFootball) to make it easier to connect. Local leagues are often robust and regionally organized—such as the Austin Sports and Social Club in Austin, Texas (which ranges from serious about sport to serious about beer and everything in between), and even twitter can connect players offline (such as twitter.com/pickupsocceratx).
There is also the old classic: If you see a bunch of people playing, stop in and join them. Since “other people matter” in happiness, you are as essential of ingredient to their happiness as they are to yours.