Guest writer, Prateek Malik, shares how sports can help you in life in the areas of personality development, health, social skills, stress management and more. Whether you are a student or a professional, here are some benefits you can get from being involved in sports.
In our life, we involve ourselves into numerous activities, mostly with a known relation with the respective age.
For instance, we would like to learn cycling when we turn six years old or a learn to drive a car by the age of eighteen.
Activities, their associated events and the choices that we make often shape up our lives.
The only thing in the universe on which we have a control is our choices.
A common reason why India has not been a popular sporting nation is because we have always been academically driven. We feel better about the invention of zero, cataract surgery or Fibonacci numbers in our country than the introduction of the games of chess or badminton. We respect our Nobel Prize winners more than the Olympians.
There is an innate sense of success associated with academic excellence that commonly drives majority of us to respect and value marksheets more than skills.
And that’s not something to be ashamed of, it should be totally normal as it represents us and our future.
In the present decade, we are daunted by the advent of technology and professionalism. We have set up some of the finest educational infrastructure in South Asia and are producing millions of fresh graduates each year.
There is a decent segment of students who qualify through rigorous exams, prepare for the corporate hiring processes and enter the corporate world.
However, despite these thorough processes, we often find senior management or teams finding that the candidate may not be a right “company fit”.
And many a times, when asked for the status of life, the youngsters will reply that they are doing just fine.
There is an unfortunate irony that among the towers of professional accolades lie a valley of mediocrity – of being in agreement with being “just fine”.
As popular American author Simon Sinek mentions, “Majority of these youngsters fall into a guilt trap that they are unable to make an impact, with no fault of their own; because they were dealt with a bad hand. There is a superficial requirement of making an impact that they are unaware of. And, eventually the burden comes on the shoulders of corporates where they conduct special sessions for the psychological orientation of the fresh teams.”
There is an essential set of activities termed as Sports that help each human avoid most of the psychological, physical and mental issues usually encountered in life. It is something the previous generation did much better and stayed healthier, even during the war times.
Let’s discuss some of the major learnings from sports and how it can improve our lives.
During our involvement in a sport, we interact with real world goals. The sense of joy and confidence achieved on scoring the first Football goal can be a long term memory.
From scientific studies, we are also aware that physical activities such as sports release endorphins that help us focus sharply.
The overall self esteem built after small accomplishments is highly productive.
When a person goes out on the field to play a sport, even before the game begins, there is a decorum required – for wearing the uniform, for taking apt field positions, for holding the body posture or game instruments and so on.
In addition to this, a positive interaction with the team members or the opponent develops healthy social skills, that are otherwise hard to learn.
Professionals often meet up at events and conferences at networking to gain a similar sociability experience that could have been achieved by a simple 60 minute game.
This is admirably a hard quality to possess. When one goes for learning leadership, there comes a plethora of TED talks, motivational series or speeches that try to merely define leadership.
The hard part is that it can be demonstrated only by real-world engagement. Even in the digital world, a company can showcase leadership only by a public launch of a product(or service) or a concept.
A sports team captain or an individual winner will begin developing leadership qualities right from the first game. And over time, it becomes what we commonly associate with successful people – “A winning habit”.
One should remember that not all all global leaders come from eminent universities, families or companies. They develop leadership through real world initiatives that help the community.
As this generation is growing up in a more rational or technologically advanced world, there is an added paradox of value selection disorders. The common reason for this is the instant gratification that is present.
You want to commute? Need not learn driving or earn for a car, open Uber app and there you go. Need to gift your mother on her birthday? No worries, open Amazon and you never need to visit a real marketplace.
Now, one may argue that for the immense time saved, how were the values affected.
Well, in previous times, one used to greet the seller in a marketplace, make acquaintances and build relationships. Similar connections with our colleagues, friends or neighbours.
Now, we see a person robotically mentioning the name of the product, checking out silently from the credit card and the value system remains limited to the hyperbolic social media.
Sports principles teach one to accept set values and principles, to understand that there is no shortcut to legitimacy.
For someone, the majority of whose academic system was relying on individual excellence in exams, projects, reports and assignments; how can you even begin to expect team building qualities in the first place?
Contrarily, in sports, one meets a diverse group of individuals who are constantly agreeing and disagreeing towards a common goal. There is a feeling of being united in sports that is missing in the educational system.
A ten year old may have a better know-how of team building in soccer than for a physics group project. The reason being the inherent interactive qualities of sports that makes individuals so different.
This one is a problem not just for the first world nations, but for everyone at certain level. Not comfortable travelling in pooled public transportation, not aware of interacting with social groups, not familiar with a different type of a smartphone.
There are countless adaptability issues with a number of professionals. In sports, one has to adapt with the current situation.
For example, a Formula 1 driver cannot call it a day because the track is wet, a shooter cannot skip the final because her boyfriend is feeling unwell.
Sports teaches adaptability in varied environments under variable circumstances.
We may usually spend hours researching for our favourite laptop or weekend holiday destination. However, when the critical time strikes, we end up calling our friends or family for advice.
Sports provides unparalleled experience of decision making where a call needs to be taken every second, at times within a split second. As mentioned earlier, choices and the speed of decision making can bring a major difference in our life.
It is another major issues of the current world. We find hard to accept concepts, especially professional decisions. Received a bad score in an exam or a disappointing report from the superiors at your company? You’re highly likely to spend the evening whining about the same with a friend or social media.
Instead of introspection and self-improvisation, lack of acceptability kills the improvement instinct in us. In a sport, one has to accept the final decision of the referee or umpire. One has to familiarise oneself with failures.
Regardless of the outcomes, in game of basketball for instance, a child will also try to observe and analyse his failure to score. He will learn and practice to become more accurate.
One may not develop excellence within the first month, but constant analysis leads to improvement.
A team will also analyse the edge their competing team had against them. For professionals, there would be long courses in statistics and analytics, and still may miss the basic observations for a major decision. Often, companies forget to upgrade their technical systems due to a clear lack of basic industry observations.
Steve Jobs once mentioned:
It can be tiring to stay passionate about the things you love because that’s insane. And that’s where most people give up.
Most people are unable to reach a level of competency or excellence because they give up after certain tries.
Sports demands consistent participation and focused determination to finish a goal. A team cannot stop participating because it never won the league trophy. That’s the sportsmanship spirit – a determination to never give up.;
The impact of sports on life echoes for decades and transforms an individual into a successful and empathetic human being.
As a part of our efforts to raise awareness about the importance of sports, our organisation SportsCult is diligently involved in helping organisations, institutions and individuals learn sports. We evangelise the benefits of sports and fitness for all age groups and aspire to make it a culture.
I appreciate your time in reading this much. You may now step out and play.
Feel free to share your feedback in the comments.
– Prateek Malik