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“Tim Howard: Growing up with Tourette syndrome and my love of football”

It has been a long-standing assumption that physical activity positively impacts children and their development.  Physically, youth are at a lower risk for developing Type II Diabetes as well as becoming obese.  Emotionally, the endorphins generated in the body as a result of exercise help with mood and impulse control.  Academically, kids who participate in sports have been found to perform better than their peers in some settings.  However, what about psychologically: could physical activity help someone who has a diagnosed mental health problem?  In an excerpt from his book “The Keeper,” Tim Howard – the famous U.S. and international football superstar who made a record 16 saves during the 2014 FIFA World Cup - describes how the sport gave him something to focus on when he was diagnosed at 11 years old with Tourette syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  In the except, Howard shares the inspirational words of his physician: “I’ve been doing this a long time, and there’s one thing I’m absolutely sure of: with every challenge a kid faces, there’s some flip side. I have no way to prove it, but I believe this: there’s always a flip side.”  Howard’s path to football glory was not easy; but his perseverance despite such adversity is an incredible example of the way in which something as simple as a sport can be the thing that propels an individual to resilience and success.  While we often think that overcoming physical injuries for athletes is cause for praise, maybe it is time that we start to commend and support those who push through the challenges of their mind to be great.  

 

Tim Howard

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