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Balancing Sports and Academics: A Path to Holistic Development for Indian Children

Indian schools prioritize academics, but what about sports? Learn how to balance both for your child's holistic development. Learn how schools and parents can create a balanced environment for academic and athletic success.

Last updated: 12.06.2024
Balancing Sports and Academics for Indian Children

Key Takeaways:

  • Parents think sports require significant time, which might affect academic performance.

  • Indian parents often prioritize studies over sports due to cultural perceptions.

  • Systematic, cultural, and mindset shifts are necessary for the Indian sports industry.

  • Schools should provide opportunities for students to explore various activities beyond academics.

  • Engaging in sports keeps kids active and contributes to their holistic development.

In India, When we think about a school going child, the first image that comes to mind is a uniform and a heavy bag full of books. Indian Schools heavily focus on academics covering a range of subjects.Though most schools have started focusing on physical education as a subject after government intervention nowadays. 

To understand Indian Sports, we are limiting the scope only to Indian context to discuss it better.

Let's come to the basic understanding of schools. We send our kids to school for learning. But learning should not just be limited to one topic or one subject. It's about the overall development of our kids and Balancing academics with physical education is essential for nurturing well-rounded individuals.

What are the Indian parents' perspective regarding sports, and consider their broader concerns beyond just sports? We'll discuss five key aspects to understand this better:

1. Balancing Academics with Sports: Addressing Parental Concerns about Time Management

The most common concern for Parents is that sports will consume too much of their children's time, affecting their studies and ultimately jeopardizing their future prospects. The time required for practice and travel for sports leaves little room for academic pursuits, which is a major concern for many parents.

If children choose to pursue sports as a career, parents often see it as a gamble. There is no guarantee of a stable income or job security in sports.

2. Beyond Textbooks: Why Indian Parents Should Embrace Sports for their Children

The Belief “When a person who studies hard, has a very good career and earns money to live a good life in comparison to others” is deeply rooted in our society. You can check it in your neighborhood and among relatives that his kids studied well and got admission into IIT, NIT or any premier institute or have become a doctor or chartered accountant. Whereas if you start finding successful sports athletes, you will not find any such example easily.

And when your parents have not seen any real life athlete example or not many as engineers, officers, doctors, chartered accountant, it would be difficult to imagine the success. And parents are not wrong in this. It is just the plain facts in the country of 140 crore people. As a country, it reflects in our sports performances. We have been below par levels as of now when you compare it to top economies such as the U.S. or China. Even China has a 150 crore population, and if you check their Olympic representation in the 20th century. China bags a total of 89 medals in 2020, 70 in 2016, 92 in 2012, 100 in 2008, 63 in 2004 and 59 in 2000. That total counts 392. While India bagged only 20 medals in the same period. (Source Wikipedia) And you may not know the actual figure but you have heard this same rhetoric many times about the Olympic comparison between India and China. Here we are not comparing with any developed nation such as the USA, UK or Russia.

3. Building Champions: The Need for a Mindset Shift to Sports Development in India

China has not done it in just a few days, months or years. It took them decades to reach here. Experts predict that India is poised to become the next major global power and economy. India holds the best talent in the world. This will be true for Sports as well. The Indian sports industry has been growing since the 2000s. With a population 140 crores, India needs infrastructure in that ratio. Infrastructure contains several elements like clear pathways for becoming a professional athlete, guidance, resources at the grassroots level, confidence in a sustainable career in sports, and access to a variety of sports activities. The focus should be on providing opportunities to experience different sports, such as cricket, kho-kho, kabaddi, wrestling, boxing, swimming, basketball, and volleyball, so that children can explore and find what they enjoy. Every child should be exposed to at least ten different sports.

And it is not always about playing at a professional level, it’s about playing  sports regularly even after becoming any of those above highly perceived professions. This requires a mindset shift, where parents encourage their children to explore and participate in various sports disciplines.

When children join any sport, their guardian or parents can go to the field and motivate them. This will be the mindset shift and that day is not too far. Because if anyone feels connected to sports at any point of time, will definitely encourage their kids to play sports.

4. School should be a place for kids to explore other than studies

This mindset shift will take place from the basic unit of institution and that is school. Schools should be places where children can explore themselves not only through academics but also through sports and other activities. This mindset shift is not merely limited to introducing physical education. It requires more than that. It requires active participation in any of the sports activities or discipline. Introducing Physical education is like reading a lab test manual without conducting actual experiments. 

Children from class 3 to class 12 spend around 7-8 hours a day in school. It is around one-third of their overall time. If school going kids spend at least 1 full day in sports activities in a month. When evaluation of sports will be done frequently like academics, It can make a significant difference. Every student should be encouraged to participate in at least one sport of their choice.

5. Sports keep kids active

When you find a stone nearby a river/pond or anything while walking. You unintentionally have thrown that stone to the river without letting it drown in the pond because basic human nature is to play. This is a free form activity. When it is done with rules and regulation it becomes a sport. When kids start participating at least in one sport of their choice. This will not just improve their fitness but also boosts their confidence. Losing and winning are part of the game. It will help them to make new circles in the form of other participants. The international council for sports science and physical activities help people to check out who they are and what potential they have. Through Sports, Kids develop life skills. The benefits of exposing kids to sports include overall personality development that we can call “holistic development”.


Parents are concerned that sports will consume too much time and it will leave no time to study. This concern needs to be taken into account genuinely and should be addressed through a school system that balances their sports activities and academics. 

When children start getting exposure to sports, they will find more examples around them. When they will be playing for their school or class or as an individual and parents/family watch their game and cheer them. It will surely help to keep them playing. Even if they decide not to join sports professionally, it can still become a part of your life. 

For those who choose to try their hands on school level, there are various schemes and sponsorships offered by the government of India to support them while they study. Read more about this Indian sports schemes

Additionally, sports offer various other career options that provide similar benefits and opportunities. Read more about non-athletics sports jobs

Comment below your sports if you want to know sports schemes related to your sport. We will write about related sports schemes that you may benefit from.


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