Can Sports and Scouts Co-Exist?

Posted on Aug 30, 2013
This time of year presents the perennial question for many boys: Sports or Scouts? As the father of three active boys I completely understand. My oldest son participated in sports and chose not to be in scouting at all, my middle son has no interest in sports and only participates in scouting, and my youngest son participates in both… So I’ve lived all sides of the issue! At the end of the day, what it really came down to for us was balance and perspective. Let me explain.

I have to admit, I get more than a little frustrated with the question in the first place. No one questions the coach’s motivation when they demand a commitment from their players (nor should they). Yet, when a Scoutmaster requests the same commitment from his scouts he is often met with resistance. After all, the thinking goes, scouting lasts all year and baseball (or soccer, or Lacrosse, or whatever…) only lasts a couple of months. So it would seem OK to concentrate on sports completely for a short time, right?

The problem with that is that most of our best scouting activities happen during the fall and spring. What that means is that the boys miss out on the biggest, best, and most exciting events in scouting and are left with cold-weather trips and winter meetings. Not much fun… Not only that, they miss out on the most advancement opportunities, camaraderie, and leadership opportunities–which is at the core of the scouting program.

Don’t misunderstand, I am not saying to avoid sports! Just the contrary. I played sports as a kid and still made the rank of Eagle Scout. I have one son who chose sports over scouts (which I am fine with), and another who is doing his best to balance the two. What I AM saying, though, is that these decisions often lack balance.

Don’t forget us and stay connected! Come to a few meetings in the fall. If it’s OK to miss some troop meetings and campouts for sports, wouldn’t it be equally fine to occasionally miss a practice to go to a troop meeting or miss a game to go on a great troop outing?

No question that sports are beneficial to boys. But so is scouting! Check out this video.

Keep the long-term perspective and help your boy see the value in the long-term goal of scouting. No other youth organization or youth movement in history has the proven results and benefits that scouting offers.

As Bryan Wendell said, “Scouts and Venturers gain skills in leadership, fitness and character they can’t get elsewhere. Scouts are more likely to graduate college than non-Scouts, and studies show former Scouts pull in a greater income than people who were never in Scouting.”

Although the boys may only see the immediate “fun” in each activity in making their choices, by encouraging your boy to stay involved in scouting (and getting involved yourself) you will be investing in his future.

Yours in Scouting,

Steve Sellers
Scoutmaster, Troop 36