Exclusion in Team Sports: More than Just a Sideline Issue!

Exclusion in Team Sports: More than Just a Sideline Issue!

Group activities and team sports are usually seen as occasions for fun, camaraderie, and healthy competition. Most of us have warm memories of schoolyard games, cheering on our team, and bonding with teammates. However, for some, especially when exclusion comes into play, these memories can also be sources of trauma.

Exclusion from group activities can lead to feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and anxiety. The pain isn’t just emotional, though. Experiencing rejection or being sidelined during crucial team decisions can cause lasting psychological trauma. It’s important to acknowledge that the trauma from being excluded isn’t any less significant than other forms of trauma. 

Remember that one time your kid was the last to be picked for a team sport? Or maybe you recall a time when your little one didn’t get an invite to a birthday party or was left out of a playdate. As mothers, it stings to see our children being excluded, and it can be a real struggle to navigate these challenges with them. 

Team sports, in particular, are an environment where children and adults alike aim for inclusion. They look forward to being part of a community, sharing victories and defeats, and experiencing the sheer joy of playing. However, when exclusion creeps in, it can lead to traumatic feelings. 

Now, we’re not saying that every time someone is left out, it’s traumatic. But the recurring experience of being consistently sidelined, being treated differently, or not being given an equal opportunity can indeed lead to trauma. Especially when exclusion becomes a pattern, the individual might start questioning their worth, skills, and even their identity. “Am I not good enough?” becomes a haunting question, leading to self-doubt.

So, how can we, as mothers, advocates, and community members, help?

1. Awareness: Recognize that trauma from exclusion is real. Offer a listening ear and a comforting shoulder when someone feels left out. 

2. Inclusivity: Encourage children and adults alike to include everyone. Teach them that everyone has a role to play, and diversity in a team can be its strength.

3. Open Conversation: Encourage coaches, teachers, and event organizers to have open dialogues about inclusion. A single conversation can change the dynamics of a team.

4. Empower: Equip those who have been excluded with the confidence and skills they need. Sometimes, a little support can go a long way.

And hey, a little fun note to all the fabulous moms out there – if your child ever feels left out from a game, you can always start your fun league at home! Pillow fights, backyard soccer, or even a dance-off? You set the rules, and inclusion is always the name of the game. Let’s make exclusion take a backseat and embrace the joy of playing together!