image: Scarface 1932, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
There are some striking similarities between the reasons why people join criminal gangs and sports teams.
By understanding these similarities, we can better understand the appeal of both activities and how sports can be used as a positive outlet for individuals.
One of the main reasons people join criminal gangs is the sense of belonging and camaraderie that comes with being a part of a tight-knit group. Similarly, sports teams provide a similar sense of community and connection with others. Joining a sports team allows individuals to bond with others over a shared love of the game, work together towards a common goal, and develop lasting friendships. These bonds can be particularly strong in team sports where individuals rely on each other for success on the field or court.
Another reason why people join criminal gangs is to feel a sense of power and control. This desire for power can also be fulfilled through sports, as athletes are able to control their performance on the field and feel a sense of mastery over their bodies. The discipline and dedication required to excel in sports also provide individuals with a sense of control over their lives and future.
Criminal gangs often provide a sense of purpose and meaning to members who may feel lost or uncertain about their future. Similarly, sports can provide individuals with a sense of purpose and direction, as they work towards specific goals and strive to improve their skills.
Sports can also offer opportunities for personal growth and development, such as learning leadership skills, building resilience, and developing self-confidence.
While the similarities between sports and criminal gangs may be surprising, the benefits of participating in sports are clear. By joining a sports team or engaging in individual activities, individuals can experience a sense of community, control, and purpose, as well as physical and mental health benefits. For individuals who may be at risk of joining criminal gangs, sports can provide a positive and rewarding outlet, helping to redirect their energy towards a productive and fulfilling activity.
Overall, sports can be a powerful tool for social and personal development, and should be accessible to everyone as a means of promoting a healthy and positive lifestyle.
Support, funding and infrastructure for sports must be a global priority. Instead of being tough on crime, we need to be tough on making sure there's no child left out of sport participation whether due to financial resources or network.
The results would be staggering and have an impact on much more than just our local gym.