On Sports Culture – Every sportsperson is a champion

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News:  The belief that unless you are winning, you are not a champion is a fallacy. The very fact of participating in sport makes you a champion, and it’s time to recognize that.

Over the last decade, India’s sporting culture has seen tremendous improvement in terms of

-Parental support,

-The expansion of government and corporate programs such as Khelo India, Fit India, and TOPS,

-The overall social acceptance of sports as a career.

However, there is a lack of attention towards people who are not able to succeed in sports even after giving their best hard work.

The complete lack of definition about what makes a successful sports career further exacerbates this situation.

How Success in academic is different from Success in Sports?

Sports’ definition of “success” is largely borrowed from academia. In academics, almost everyone succeeds eventually.

Whereas, In sports, it’s the reverse. This eventually leaves less than 5 percent of those entering sport as good enough to be termed a “success”. These are people who win medals at the Olympics, World Championships, World Cups, etc.

While others end up being categorized as “failures” and exit the sport at some stage or the other. Adding to their miseries, the lack of viable post-playing career options as a safety net makes their exit more painful.

Why do we need to look at education and sport from different lenses?

Firstly, in school/education, the number of successful/promoted/graduated/pass students is very high. Whereas in sports, medals are the sole benchmarks of success. Out of many finalists, only one will emerge as the winner.

Secondly, in education, people move on from board results. Whereas, in sport, people leave when they actually fail.

Thirdly, institutions have the support of positive, constructive alumni. But in sport, the scenario is like an organization that has to fire people and the attitude of the people/players is like employees who are laid off.

What needs to be done?

It is important to celebrate the stories of, 95% of people, who have taken successful careers outside sports. Unless these stories are celebrated like our Olympic and world champions, we will be missing out and losing huge human potential.

What is the way forward?

Sport gives us values for life, be it lessons about “failure” or the foundation for our health or the fun and re-creation.

It teaches discipline, the attitude of hard work, awareness and intelligence, planning, and teamwork.

These benefits in physical and cognitive areas should encourage each one of us to play sport.

The positives of sport are immense, but the abnormality discussed above needs to be challenged to have a sustained model for growth in our country.

Source: This post is based on the article “Every sportsperson is a champion” published in Indian Express on 24th   Dec 2021.

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