October 14, 2013
It was after five long years that I stepped into this very prestigious institution where I had spent seventeen years of my life and needless to say, I have relished every single moment of my academic career. This time my role was to take up the position as the head-coach of the college basketball teams. The opportunity not only brought back memories from my time as a player, it also made me understand the overall scenario of our sports culture presently. And make no mistake folks, if the future is anything to go by the current trend, it could be May Day for sports before we know it.
Some of the generalized views from physical educators of various institutions across Mangalore City and it could be safely said is no different around it are:
Physical fitness isn’t prioritized institutionally: Only a handful of institutions in our country, give equal importance to fitness and academics. Most of our schools and colleges see sports as surplus to requirements. We see parents complaining or the principal summoning the parents in cases where the students show poor academic performances. But have we even heard of anyone complaining if the student isn’t even able to jog 100 metres?
Yes, in all schools we have the annual sports days, the inter-mural games, special hours for physical training on class days but, the question is are we serious enough when promoting fitness and sports in our institutions?
Sports pursued reactively: When we organise sports training camps during vacations, we get a large number of students who are forcibly brought to join these camps not because they want their children to pursue a career in sports but, they want their children to lose weight, learn how to run, on doctor’s recommendation help build stronger bones and muscles and many are made to join to ensure that they do not trouble their parents at home during vacations. In other words, we have come to this situation where we only encourage our children to pursue sports when we realise that it is the only saviour.
Excess of academic focus: In life, it is crucial to maintain a balance to remain healthy and content. It is very sad to know that most of our young students these days are made to think one- dimensionally. They are made to assume that only good marks and nothing else will ensure success in life. No one would deny that good academic performances will help you get a seat in the best institutes and probably a placement in a top organisation. But unfortunately what counts is what you do after that? Isn’t team work important? It is… Aren’t inter-personal skills important? They are… Isn’t performing under pressure important? It is… so, how are we going to train our children on this?
We all know that one of the attributes of a successful person is that he doesn’t always sacrifice the things that he loves doing to achieve his goals, it is about how he sets his priorities at different times.
It is also observed that some of the tutorials are not just murdering our sports culture but also a major reason why students do not pay much attention to the lectures in schools/ college. The scheduling is so hectic and hazardous, that we already have not a few but many academic toppers, who have either lost their self-identity or under the state of depression. It is therefore paramount to be more on the practical side and think overall when it comes to development of our children.
Lack of residential sports schools: Sports schools offer the best foundation for those students whose aim is to develop themselves into professional sportsmen/women. Such institutions that we know of are mostly promoted and maintained by the government. Students are extensively trained in the sport of their choice and also provided with necessary preliminary education. However, apart from only a few centres across the country that provide a decent infrastructural set up and quality to athletes, the condition of the rest is not even close to the required standards. The result of such conditions has led to an assumption in general public that sports is no longer as convincing a career for their children.
Now let us see the practical side of things. We have thousands of students joining schools and colleges every year in our city. Do all students show the same interests? No… Do all students dream the same? No… Do all students share the same physical and emotional attributes? No… Do all students possess the same financial backing from their parents? No… At the end of it all, is it possible for all of them to end up making a successful career in similar fields only? No…
In other words, our renowned institutions should step up big time and be exemplary to the rest by providing a set-up to provide 360° education to students, and parents have to back them up.
The best institution would be the one that brings out the best academic performers, sports geniuses, creative talents and leaders. Or hang on a minute; we may also have some who would manage all of this, convincingly.
More and more embracing indoor sports: The current trend observed is that a large percentage of youngsters in India prefer indoor sports, and to be more specific intellectual sports i.e. sports that involve very low physical activity. The parents do not mind it either because they are always safe to play and there is no risk of injury, their children would be safe in confinement and there would be no issues of them venturing outside and returning home late, so on and so forth.
The fact is that Indians are intellectual by genetics, and we show good composure in those games that involve more of brains than sheer physical fitness.
Any sport, be it intellectual or physical, is a sport none the less. But for those who have already embraced mind sports, it is also recommended to spend some time concentrating on physical fitness too. If not outdoor sport itself, other indoor games like badminton, squash, table tennis, etc for quarter of an hour each day would help. Gym or cardio-vascular training is handy too.
Since one of the roles I play is that of a professional mentor for the youth, and over the period of time, plenty of youth related issues have been brought to me for redressal, there has been one striking factor that has been obvious in almost all cases. i.e. imbalance in the nature of activities whilst pursuing academic careers. Intellectual and physical activities are like food and drink. We could never be healthy sacrificing one of them by compensating it with consuming excess of the other. We would never have excess food to compensate our thirst or vice versa.
These days, many parents do not think twice about instructing their children to totally sacrifice socializing, playing their sports, entertainment for periods as long as months, year, and in some cases, years!!! The results could be devastating. Yes, we would no doubt, achieve our main objective i.e. ensuring that our child would get a good grade, marks or ranks, but make no mistake folks, these three quantitative things would only ensure our child a seat in a reputed institution, it would never ensure a good career or fulfilment in the future. That can only be a result of having a well- balanced life.
Some of the conditions that we have come across as a result of one- dimensional academic careers are
Lack of confidence during one-on-one or group interactions: Brilliance is not what one possesses, but how and when one applies what he possesses. A large number of cases where an individual has known many things have performed brilliantly in every exam with that knowledge but when it comes to getting use to his team in a work environment or during an interview, he develops cold feet and their mind runs blank. It is the result of too much input and no output capacity.
Self- Identity Crisis: Unnecessary curbing of natural instincts, discontinuing the things that we love doing the most, for a significant period of time may result in an individual totally losing his/her true identity. This could result in major problems for not only that individual in particular, but also his family and his friends. Most times, individuals forget what they used to be and the things they are capable of doing.
Depression, Aggression and Addiction: An idle mind can make us do extraordinary things. It is shocking to know the damage to personality one- dimensional living can do to us. “switch on” and “switch off” modes are very important to every individual. On any given day, it is necessary to be involved in different genres of activities. If one gets consistently persistent with only one genre, a mind certainly starts to get tired and on the other hand, we have no idea of what to do to when we take a break. Such individuals either slip into what I call a “standby mode” or depression, or get really aggressive in the presence of any other individual or will choose the booze or the dope or computer games as their best friends.
It is also learnt that frustrated students are also capable of committing physical violence.
Some of the important benefits that a sportsman enjoys and the lessons for life sports teaches him are
- One never wins without playing the game
- While playing the game, we win some and we lose some. Everyone falls, but the one who rises first, learns from his mistakes, to accomplish his goals is the real winner
- If there is anything more important than winning, it is sportsman spirit.
- To be successful as a team, we not only need individual brilliance, talent and attitude, we need all the team mates to work as one and perform for each other. This reinstates the interdependence we humans are beginning to lack.
- Winning keeps us happy and losing teaches us the best lessons of life.
- To be successful in the long run, one needs to keep improving every day. The moment one feels that he has accomplished it all, he will have to make way to the rest who will succeed him.
- The attitude with which one plays his sport will be his personal trailer to foresee how he is going to live his life.
All that we could confer is that sports play a very important role in our lives. It is not a luxury, neither is it restricted for the ones who are born to be sportsmen. Physical fitness is of utmost need if we want to pursue a happy and healthy lifestyle. Yes, we all may not end up as a professional sportsman if we do this but, it will certainly solve a lot of problems for us and the younger generation. Else, how could we possibly think of solving weighty and skeletal problems that are very prominent in young children? Hypertension and diabetic patients to keep their levels on check? If not a physically demanding sport, a daily walk or jog in the nearest park, early in the morning would kick of your day in brilliant style.
Food for thought: Schools and Universities in Countries like China, Japan, if we talk about the west the United States, Europe and Australia have a mandate to ensure professional training on physical fitness. It could be via martial arts, gymnastics or sports and mind you, they take it very very seriously. It is not if our institutes have this or not, it is about how serious we are to ensure that it goes hand in hand with our academics.
Let us all encourage our children to do a lot more with their lives in addition to what they are already doing. Embracing one sport would be the best thing they will do to help themselves.
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