One of the features that attracts students to school sports is that competitive athletics is “hard fun.” Most students want to have fun, and most students ascribe greater value to that which doesn’t come too easily.
I don’t think we change much as we mature. We continue to value most the things that require effort ... the activities which, when completed, feel like an accomplishment.
It’s why I cherish my recent high altitude hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu ... the hardest physical challenge I’ve had since double-session football practices in high school and college.
It’s why coaches often will say their favorite season was the .500 record with over-achievers, not the conference championship with under-achievers.
It’s why students will return to class reunions this summer, 10 and 20 years after their graduation, and compliment especially the teachers and coaches who required the most of them as students and athletes.
What the very best classrooms and competitive athletic and activity programs do is challenge students. They push students to discover that they can move beyond where they thought their limits might be. They encourage students to explore their capabilities and to experience the joy of exceeding their expectations.