A Good Sport

“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”           >> Sorya Chan

What a match it was! The Sindhu-Marin gold quest is reported to be the highest viewed TV programme on the day, garnering 17.2 mn impressions unprecedented for any event outside of international cricket. Social media was abuzz with the outpouring of pride (and relief for the silver) across India. Who wouldn’t want such skill and success for their child?

Parents across India have a renewed passion to develop, encourage and strengthen their children’s athletic and sporting abilities. My reflections as a parent myself are to hope that while we encourage sports, my greater hope is that we encourage sportsmanship even more. Often in only focusing on the competition as a win or lose situation, we silently leave behind the messages on fair play and honesty.

“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”- Sorya Chan

Sportsmanship brings with it more than just the promise of a good game. The values and ethics it can build into our children are invaluable to making a generation of kids who have in equal measure both skill and self control, the will to win balanced with equity and fairness. Coaches and trainers could play a crucial role in educating kids that the desire to win can never be greater than the need to respect another individual or the rules of the game.

Who doesn’t love a good sport? Someone who can persevere with grit against all odds, who can believe in themselves and yet take responsibility.

This was evident on social media too – As #PVSindhu praises swamped newsfeeds, equally conspicuous were the sporadic mentions of #Marin’s performance. While most messages applauded Sindhu for the fight and many mocked Marin for her screaming, a relative few celebrated the game in itself.  However Sindhu’s Olympian spirit of resilience through the match, losing with grace, picking up Marin’s racquet and walking over to help her up was the most admired part of the fight that evening.

We have often been criticized as a country focused on marks and awards, placing tremendous pressure on children to perform above average and making the average feel less than worthy. Its time we encouraged sport for the sake of sportsmanship. Not just on the fields and the pitches but in our homes and classrooms as well. To teach our children the values we all believe in but are often relegated to unspoken and unseen messages in the mad race to the finish. We will excel at a nation and bring shining accolades home in more than just sports if we do.

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