Inspired by Sports

When you compete against others, there is always scope for defeat. However, when you compete with yourself, defeat does not matter, and victory is in participation.

Unfortunately, we are brought up with the need to compete and compare. If we do better than others, we are praised, and yet pushed to perform better. If we are outperformed by others, then we are taunted and pushed to work even more harder. This is a common problem across the board where parenting is concerned. It is an inherited aspect of being parents. As parents do, so shall parents do, and therefore parents do – compare and make to compete against the world.

Competition is healthy when you compete with others in the spirit of playing the game and celebrating each other’s victory, and learning from each other in defeat. However, competing against each other does not inculcate the spirit of sportsmanship – in the game specifically, and in life in general. This because being pit against another means, we have to get ahead irrespective. No team spirit, no goals for the common good of others. The need to win overpowers the need to participate.

The best of sportspersons have a team that work with them. The most important being the coach. It is up to the coach to bring appropriate sportsmanship into the player/athlete. If the athlete is trained with blinkers that bind them to an ego drive for victory, the obstacles are far too many. They trip over their own toes and return last in the race.

However, when coached with blinkers that are used to keep focus on one’s skills, talents, agility, mobility, strengths and weaknesses, goals and aspirations; and yet with respect and honour for others, one is a winner, even if the medal or trophy is not brought back. The joy of participation – an opportunity to be a part of the game, is far more. For the story is not in the victory, but in the hard work and efforts.

I have observed most champions actually say that playing the game, or running the race, or swimming the length was what drove them to out-perform themselves. That is what actually led them to their victories.

Life too throws opportunities to run our races and play our team games. Those who write out their successful stories are the best of team members, who make inspirational leaders. Can you be the best team player, who leads your team? Is your ego bigger than the collective team? Is the entire team consciousness your own extension? Do you drown in the misery of your defeat, or can bounce back, and celebrate another’s victory?

Every competitive sporting event, whether at the school level, local, inter-state, national or international level is about challenging yourself to discover your excellence beyond every limitation. Every sportsperson, pushes themselves beyond their limits, to excel. Yet, there are those who remain behind their rigid limits because they are so busy competing against others, that their focus is distracted by the excellence of others. They keep a mindset of wanting to defeat another, rather than pushing themselves further.

“I want to win against them!” Well, that will lead to always being defeated.

“I want to push beyond my limits!” Well, this will lead you to outperform yourself. A defeat will cause tears, and yet you’ll overcome it, as you know that gave your all, when participating. 

This year, the Tokyo Olympics is being held in the midst of a pandemic where stress levels are even more higher for everyone involved. Yet, there is such a high spirit of sportsmanship. It’s even more celebration for India, as our sportspersons are giving their all into participating, and we are bringing home medals in various events.

Tokyo Olympics 2021 will be etched in our memories, as global event that entertained us, and taught us so much. While watching the games from the comfort of my home, a thought occurred to me: Every participant from across the world, at the Olympic games is inspired and motivated by a higher purpose – the purpose being to serve their country. They represent their country, participate and make every effort to return with medals. They provide entertainment to millions worldwide. They give us all a reason to smile. Should it matter who wins or loses?

Actually, it shouldn’t. But, to be honest, I am a spiritual being on a spiritual journey, and it comes naturally to cheer my India at the Olympics!

I watch every sportsperson representing India with admiration. For, they have come from various parts of the country; varying economic strata. Each have faced so many challenges. The pandemic has not made it any easier for them. A large part of the year gone by went in lockdowns. Yet, here they are giving their all for their Motherland. So, for me, no matter how many medals we win, every sportsperson is a winner.

India has definitely come a long way in recognizing sports as an important part of our lives. There are opportunities for sportspersons to train and participate in various national and international games. Yet, I feel there is so much more that can be done and achieved. We are the second most populated country in the world, brimming with talent. We need to come forward and provide opportunities for sportspersons to be coached. 

Sports must be brought into the fore as a career option. It can be an entire industry. Hockey is our national game, yet cricket is the richest sport. We need to give every sportsperson, no matter which field they choose the same amount of respect and honor. 

We have it in us to be the sporting capital of the world. I hope this does happen. For, when true sportsmanship is inculcated into every child, whether on the field or in life, defeats or victories will cease to define one. Instead, everyone will eagerly participate in every game that life offers them in the spirit of participation and togetherness. 

In an interesting Instagram Live Discussion with Music Therapist Roshan Mansukhani, he described the difference between passion, hobby and activity. He mentioned all three are important for us. Passion is our career, our purpose. Hobby is what brings us to ourselves – art, craft, reading, etc. Activity is what we go out to pursue to tire us. 

I feel sports is a combination of all three for a sportsperson – passion to participate, a hobby that leads one to self-awareness to push beyond limitations, an activity that truly tires the body in a pleasing way.

So, whether one takes up sports as an activity in general or as a profession, it must be held with same value as academics. Life is not just about intellectualizing it; but even more about playing it.

Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo Olympics 2021

Olympic games

India at the Olympics

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