Recess, sports provide many life lessons

Nick Esposito

  When you were a kid, what was your favorite subject? I bet for some of you, it was geography, language arts or maybe even spelling.  But as for me, like millions of others around the country, it was recess that caught my interest.  

Recess was a precious time in the school day, and it was not to be wasted.  Not only because it was a time to burn all of your pent-up energy but because it is also the time in the day when you find out the most about yourself.  

It was at recess where you learn lessons that you simply couldn’t learn in the classroom.   

The first lesson comes at the beginning of recess when kids have to pick teams. Typically, the most popular, funniest, good-looking and athletic kids were chosen to be captains.  They would then hold a barbaric fantasy draft as they looked at the pool of players and instantaneously judged them on the spot.  For those who possessed the athletic prowess to be picked high in the draft, this was their favorite time of recess. But for those who fell to the later rounds, it was a moment of dread and degradation.  It is these diamond-in-the-rough hopefuls who learn the important lessons at recess.  

In life you may not be picked first, or second, or maybe even fifth or sixth.  You may be at the bottom of the pile and the last one stuck in the Draft Day Green Room. The feelings of humiliation and self-pity cannot cause you to choose not to play. You need to go out the next day and allow yourself to be judged again because tomorrow might be your day, and you can’t miss it.  

That is why you need to know your game.  You may be small and weak, but that makes you stealth and unexposed. I can guarantee that a giant kid may be the Mouphtaou Yarou on the asphalt and get picked first for basketball every time, but I doubt that Mel Kiper has him high on the hide-and-seek draft board. Can you imagine Mouph hiding behind a tree unnoticed? Probably not going to happen.But little, scrawny ‘Timmy’ can stand behind it completely undetected. 

Like ‘Timmy,’ on the playground you learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, and, more importantly, learn how to use them to your advantage.

I have always had more respect for the kids who continually get picked last, yet continue to play than for the kids who sit out on the sidelines. The kids who put themselves on the “injury reserved” list are unconsciously refusing to learn all of the lessons that recess can provide.  

Those who deal with recess by removing themselves from it are not learning how to be judged and therefore not enabling themselves to learn anything.  I once was one of those kids who was so worried about being uncomfortable that I refused to push my limits.  However, by doing this, we never discover if we are secretly terrific tether ballers or lethal Red Rover players.  

I also learned that you don’t make friends on the sidelines. Typically you don’t make your friends in math class over flash cards but, instead, on the playground at recess.  You can make inside jokes, stories and maybe even create a legacy.  

It is a simple lesson, but it is an important one.  Life is not a spectator sport — you need to get off the bench and get in the game. If you are not in the game, you can’t score, or at the very least congratulate the athletic kid who did.   

So, whether your game is Duck Duck Goose, Steal the Bacon or even hopscotch, and no matter if you were the chaser or the chased, the bully or the pummeled, you have learned lessons in the short, exciting time stuck in between math and spelling.  

No matter what you do, remember that dominating the game is a small matter compared to playing the game.  Enjoy it while it lasts because the bell is going to ring soon, and after recess, you have to go back to class.


Nick Esposito is a junior communication major from Skillman, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]