Children who participate in organized sports have the opportunity to develop many skills — some emotional, some physical. Whether or not a sports organization keeps score for your 4-year-old's T-ball team, and even if your teenager's school basketball team loses every game, involvement in sports can be a great thing for children of any age.

1. Cooperation. The skills and values children learn by working with and cheering for teammates is great preparation for a society that places an emphasis on getting along with others — especially in the work world.

2. Attitude. Hopefully, your children will get plenty of practice on how to be a good sport — winning without being arrogant and losing without getting mad. Both are important.

3. Perseverance. Sports require specific skills, meaning that kids must often practice at home with a parent. Putting those learned skills to use in a real game or competition shows them how much they can accomplish when they keep trying.

4. Support for others. Whether it's siblings on the sidelines of a baseball game, or players on the bench rooting for their basketball teammates, sports helps teach children to root for one another.

5. Fitness. In a culture where childhood obesity rates are a real health concern, children need all the exercise — and exposure to various kinds of physical activity — they can get.

6. Exposure to game rules. Understanding the rules of different sports and how they are played is simply an education for the future.

7. Social skills. Being involved in sports gives children a chance to meet kids and families in the community they wouldn't have otherwise.

Resources for Parents

"When kids are involved in organized sports, it should be at a level that corresponds to each child's particular interests and ability and should not replace spontaneous play. Ideally, coaches should have knowledge of early childhood development, as well as sports safety."