The S in Survive, comes from Sports

3 min readFeb 13, 2024

A friends daughter, bright, outgoing and extroverted. Studying in a top university, on her way through the American dream, had everything going for her. One day out of the blue, wanted to come back and not finish her studies. There was no reason and the parents were baffled. The kid all of a sudden was complaining about loneliness and depression. There has been a panic button been pressed by the folks and rightly so.

Similar story of another brilliant boy, went with honours and full scholarships, dream college, dream start. What could go wrong ? Everything !!

The boy could not cope with the culture, the change and loneliness. While his strengths were always there in academics, there was a certain affinity towards a family life and a way of living here, which made him a little bit of an outsider, even in a supposedly very embracing and open society for immigrants.

What we as parents need to understand, while we equip our children with the SAT scores, the credit cards and the well meaning relatives who can keep an eye and also provide a break on thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, none of them compare with giving them an advantage by playing some active sports while here, and if I may add, non-cricket sports is a bonus J.

Sports playing, watching, recreation is the biggest ice breaker, team building exercise and place to make friends and acquaintances. Most of the western world revolves around sports, games and outdoors, something very different then what we are used to here.

If anyone has doubts on this, catch the madness of the Super Bowl this weekend and all your doubts will dispel.

Professional sports and College sports are an integral part of American culture, while not many cities will have their own professional teams, almost all of the universities have a long history of successful athletic programs, which will be religiously or even vehemently followed by the fans, community and students.

The craze is so much, that there was a much heated argument during the last FIBA world cup, when Noah Lyles who won a gold medal in the 100 meter talked about how it bothered him that NBA champions call themselves “ world champions “ when all they do is win a in NBA a USA centric league., while there are real world champions like him. Anyway that is digressing from the point.

Billy Jean King hit the nail on the head, when she said “ Sport teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose-it teaches you about life.”

The tangibles in sports are well documented, the fitness, the accolades, wins, the trophy’s etc.

The intangibles are something which need to be badly highlighted, you can live through adversity. You make friends and build a social life outside colleges and dorms. You can take failures standing and know that another chance will soon come. You take success lightly as you know tomorrow will be another day and this victory will mean nothing soon, You develop routines, habits and good company. You keep your head out of bad habits and get dopamine rushes at a better place.

Another thing which I don’t have much experience or skills and hence not elaborating more is the Arts.

Pick up a habit of writing, reading, music and / or playing any instrument. These things help you move mountains when you are in the roller coaster emotional journeys of adolescence and youth. God knows that listening to Queen and U2 got me through many a rough day.

So a last piece of unsolicited advise, equip them wisely, run after grades here and there, but the real game is in the “ extra curriculars “ . That is the edge, sports, arts and others. Not because they give extra credit.

The real reason is that it helps them “ survive “ and only if they survive, will they “ thrive “.

No one said it would be easy, but send Mamma Sports and Daddy Arts with them and they will serve as good anchors.

An excerpt from IF — Rudyard Kipling

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it