For some kids, it’s in their genes. For others, the motocross bug bites early. And still for others, it develops later on as part of a new, emerging interest. Children of all ages and from all walks of life find themselves drawn toward motocross. Whether you’re the parent of a passionate youngster or a young person yourself, here are 33 reasons why motocross is great for kids.
Why Motocross is a Positive Influence for Children
Like most sports, motocross can be enjoyed as a spectator or a competitor. Kids of all levels and involvement in motocross can benefit from it. In this article, we’ve identified ways that motocross is a positive influence for a child whether they’re a motocross enthusiast, a dirt bike rider or someone who already races – or all three.
As an Enthusiast
Many children – especially boys – are naturally drawn toward entertainment that provides thrills and excitement. For most movies and video games, this means a series of violent (and sometimes downright disturbing) images. While motocross is inherently dangerous, it is extremely non-violent, even compared to other sports. Direct physical contact on the track between competitors is avoided on every occasion.
The roots of motocross are out in the open, on outdoor tracks spread over a good distance. Motocross proper is still raced in this same format. Because tracks are relatively long, spectators are often able to watch the race right from the sidelines. (Supercross and arenacross are the exceptions since they occur in stadiums.)
Motocross is a physically demanding sport. As such, it requires racers to maintain optimum health at all times. Unlike most sports which require obvious physical effort, motocross appears deceptively easy to the uninitiated. When children discover how physically demanding it can be and the lengths racers go to in order to stay in the best shape possible, they better realize how important good health really is – even for those activities which may not appear to require it. (Just check out this article detailing champion Ryan Dungey’s exercise routine.)
Because motocross is dangerous, all professional racers utilize safety equipment and precautions. Even at the most amateur of races, no competitor is on the track without at least a helmet, goggles and boots. This is an important lesson that has implications in all aspects of everyday life. The risk isn’t worth it. Plus professional motocross makes safety look cool.
As kids start following the careers of individual riders instead, they learn that all the big names have large sponsorships. While racers initially get sponsorships because of skill, keeping them involves a great deal of maintaining positive relationships. Pro racers can end their career by burning one bridge too many.
Most professional riders recognize that they are where they are in part due to the help of others. Many are paid to publicly acknowledge sponsors, but most offer genuine words of gratitude to their backers (financial or otherwise) during interviews.
Motocross is popular enough that there are fans everywhere. However, it is still small enough that the general population simply isn’t very interested. Motocross enthusiasts tend to forge friendships faster than followers of other sports because there aren’t as many children who share those same interests.
Because motocross hasn’t reached a high level of penetration in television and film, youngsters need to read to feed their passion. There is plenty of great material available online or in print. While some motocross magazines are written purely with an adult audience in mind, others are appropriate for all ages.
As a Rider
If a rider doesn’t take safety seriously, it can end their riding really quick. This focus on safety will extend to other facets of their life as well.
Riding a dirt bike takes place outside and requires a good deal of physical exertion. This helps kids achieve a healthy lifestyle. It’s a much better choice than many of their indoor counterparts make.
Posture really does make a difference in riding ability, and once kids realize that, they want to maintain the best posture possible. This choice, while made simply to improve performance on the bike, can help become a healthy habit off of it too.
As with all performance-related objectives, skill on a dirt bike only comes with practice. A child’s passion for motocross can keep them practicing longer than they would on other tasks, but the satisfaction of achievement will reinforce the positive value of practice in other aspects of their life as well.
Riding a dirt bike can only occur in specific locations (off-road locations which usually need to be traveled to) and for a limited amount of time (based on the amount of gas available on any particular excursion). Because of this, a youngster is given adequate reason to work hard to improve with the time they have. This is unlike activities which they may participate in at any time or for as long as they want.
Dirt bikes have throttles, front brakes, rear brakes, clutches and handlebars. In order to ride one, kids have to manage all of the controls while they steer at the same time – and keep the bike upright through proper balance. For beginners, it isn’t easy, but operating multiple controls simultaneously is a skill that they can use in other facets of their lives as well.
Few people ride motorcycles, but nearly everyone learns how to drive when they’re at licensable age. By learning how to ride a dirt bike while young, kids have a driving advantage over their peers later on. While it’s true that driving a dirt bike and driving an automobile are quite different, many skills are the same or at least transferrable – speed judgment for nearby vehicles, peripheral awareness, responsiveness to unexpected obstacles, etc.
Let’s face it – many adults don’t know how to use a clutch. While a manual transmission in a car and a dirt bike have differences, the concept is the same. Knowing how to use a clutch on a bike will transfer when it comes time to learning in a car.
Motocross is a sport that has a relatively high cost of entry. Instead of purchasing a $20 basketball, people who want to participate in motocross must be able to afford a dirt bike that costs at least several hundred dollars used. This doesn’t even include any performance enhancing accessories or any riding gear. This means that if they really want to pursue riding, they need to work for what they want (even if the costs are subsidized to a degree by their parents).
Along the lines of the last point, most kids have to patiently wait until they or their parents can afford to upgrade parts or gear (or get a bike at all).
Regular maintenance is key to keeping a dirt bike running properly. This helps kids learn how crucial it is to take care of what they have. This is an important habit that will carry over into their adult life when they own a car or a home.
Not only can kids learn the value of maintenance, they can also learn how to perform it as well. Of course, most things are best left for the adults, but kids can safely check tire pressure, tighten spokes, clean an air filter (depending on the cleaning fluid used) and more. Performing mechanical work also helps children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
A dirt bike is first and foremost a machine. Kids who learn basic mechanical repairs alongside their parents build a foundation of mechanical skills (and basic mechanical logic) that will translate into other areas of their life.
As a Racer
At the racing level, kids needs additional support from their parents. This involves simple aspects like transportation to races, but it also involves emotional support as well. It’s not just up to the dedication of the racer – the parents need to be dedicated as well.
A race – like any organization – requires someone to be in charge. That person is not a parent, nor is it someone that the child is (or will become) familiar with like a teacher. Instead, it is someone who was previously a stranger, will have little personal connection with the child for the day, and will exit the child’s life as quickly as they entered it. This is not something many children are accustomed to, but they need to act appropriately if they want to race.
Unlike many sports, motocross all comes down to the individual. Because there is no team, there is no one else they can blame for poor results if they don’t fulfill their responsibility.
Despite the race itself being a solo endeavor, it takes a team effort to pull it all off. From family and friends to riding coaches, there are many who participate and support the racer. Quite simply, they just can’t do it on their own.
The performance and results of each race provide important experience and motivation to set goals for the next time. Kids who race in motocross learn that if they want to see good results, they need to set goals and adequately prepare. For example, many racers time their laps on practice days and consistently set goals to shave seconds of their lap times.
As with any game or sport, motocross has rules. In fact, each track may have a unique set of rules. Children must learn that for everyone to participate and have fun, all must obey the rules.
Motocross communities are usually a fairly tightknit bunch, and families that attend multiple races often start getting to know one another. Kids who participate in racing meet other children with similar goals and aspirations as their own. They learn the value of encouraging and supporting each other even though they might be competitors on the track.
Unlike other sports or situations where there is a single winning side and a single losing side, everyone except for first place faces a degree of loss. Since children can watch others who are experiencing the same bitter feeling of defeat as they are, they can learn how to accept it in an appropriate manner and with dignity. Since many of the competitors get to know each other, it’s easier for children to congratulate those who beat them in a race. With the right support and encouragement from their parents, they can discover that racing (and competition in general) is about having fun, not winning.
No one wins their first race, but hopefully all children eventually get to feel the thrill of placing well. Since they have probably lost multiple times previously – and since they likely know a few of the racers that they beat – they can understand the importance of accepting a win with both excitement and grace.
Except for the most elite riders on the professional level, no motocross racer has every part, accessory or tune-up that they would like to enhance their bike’s performance. In motocross, kids have no choice but to accept that they can’t have it all, and there is always someone else at the track who has a better bike. Motocross teaches them that they should give it their best anyways and that they still have a shot due to their personal dedication.
In line with the previous point, kids who race motocross discover that their personal dedication and willingness to give it their all is ultimately more important than their bike or anything else. Motocross is a sport where the underdog really can win if they have enough heart.
With most sports, the emphasis is all placed on beating the other team. In motocross, competitors in the same class are all out at the same time, but everyone is really having the same battle with a single opponent: the track. When it all comes down to it, kids who race learn that in order to be at their most competitive level, they must block out the chaos around them and just do their personal best on the part of the track they’re on.
Motocross is sometimes viewed as wild, rowdy or crude from the outside. But this isn’t the case at all. Instead, it’s an excellent passion for kids to nurture and excel at. It provides a proving ground to build essential life skills and experience that kids will be able to draw on throughout their school years and long after they’re adults. The same skills and values that motocross teaches will come in handy everywhere from social settings to the workplace.