When I meet new people who have the innate ability to lead, I ask them what sport they played.  I’m never surprised, never disappointed.  Always I find an athlete with fond memories.  And if the person isn’t an athlete, I learn of musical talents or performing arts training.  Social skills and leadership are talents learned outside the classroom in extracurricular activities.

I am so disappointed when I hear of schools and communities abandoning physical education classes and recreation centers made for youngsters; abandoning school orchestras and marching bands; theater groups and forensics to save a buck.  It is a strategic error in the course of human evolution.  Sports, music and performing arts are the recruiting grounds for tomorrow’s leaders.  Where will they come from without these nurturing venues?

Youngsters listening to a coach, a band director, or an arts mentor are the epitome of willing followers.  They learn that leaders build strong teams and sustainable programs.  They learn to recognize success in its making.  And it happens in so many fashions – through highly charged motivators or quiet doers who set an example.

We cannot abandon the obvious.  We need to raise our next generation of leadership through athletics and the other extracurricular activities enjoyed by children. Encourage and embrace; do not neglect the nurturing of leadership.

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