I always stressed the importance of playing sports to my girls, mainly because I think sports is the one way to learn about the importance of working together with other people.

It turns out it pays off in other ways as well.

A new Harris Poll reveals that 73 percent of American adults were involved in some form of physical activity while they were in school and, for the most part, skills learned there helped folks as they grew up.

Sixty four percent of people who participated in sports went on to some level of higher education, with 20 percent of them likely to get a four-year degree, as compared to only 14 percent for those who didn’t take part in sports. They were also twice as likely to go on to post-graduate schooling (12 percent vs. six percent).

As for why, it could be because of what those people learn on the field, and we’re not talking about how to throw a strike. Sixty-nine percent of those who participated in athletics felt it provided them with skills to work towards common goals, while 66 percent say it helped them learn skills to use in a group setting, and 65 percent say it helped them with their approaches toward problem solving.

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Meanwhile, 60 percent said it was an important factor for them in learning flexibility within work situations and creative problem solving and 82 percent believe it helped them to become better team players. Plus it never hurts to be the star on the office softball team!

Unfortunately, those benefits are lost today, as less kids are participating in sports. The reason may be that adults have taken away the fun parts of sports and replaced them with rigid constraints that make it seem like more of a chore.

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Winning is low on the list of what kids find exciting about sports.

I know this sounds wrong, but should be stressed less. I mean, think about it, the stories you like to tell about playing sports as a kid rarely include the won-loss factor, but instead are usually about the shared experience.

So stop demanding perfection, and let the kids just play. I've been on championship teams and I've been on teams that lost every game, and my memories for the guys I look back on the friends on made on both teams the same way: what we did, we did together; and, in the end, I learned life lessons from both sides.