D0 Sports build character?

By Abdul Ali

Sport is a human activity to develop and exercise basic human skills, with their being exercised for their usefulness, gaining mastery of environment and nature. Sennet; games with pebbles dating back 3000 BC was pleasing pastime Egyptian hunters passed their spare time. But not until the heyday of Greece do sport and physical education play the central role which it occupies in modern society.

Youth hailing from mountainous rustic setup are dexterous in sporting activities but sport today has become a profession and an industry in itself. All play but fewer turn out to adopt it or happen to be a professional player. This write up takes into account the benefit of healthy sporting with the backdrop of recently concluded double-wicket cricket event entertained by Ghulkin Youth Association in Gilgit.

Greetings of Nowruz from GYA
Greetings of Nowruz from GYA

Physical, mental, and moral health are foundational beliefs in modern society and these; sport studies scholars claim, comes through right development of attitude toward healthy sporting activities. For centuries it has been believed that sport contributes to values that make for the development of character and right social relations. Though there are many a factors involved, in character building, which can’t be subtly analyzed and attributed to sporting alone. The very people involved like athletes, coaches, parents, youth sports organizers and spectators know from experience that sports participation has offered them numerous moments of pleasure, healthy exercise, and friendships. Players enjoy the lessons drawn from games in form of achievement, cooperation and competition.

The significance of sport can be gauged from the commitments; like the European Union’s declaring year 2004 as the “Year of Education through Sport” whilst the United States stressed on physical fitness and sports, which views itself as a “catalyst to promote, encourage and motivate Americans of all ages to become physically active and participate in sports”. Every nation and state aspires that its youth has active, healthy and fit lives which strongly depends upon participating in sporting activities. Sports help individuals develop character, discipline, confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of well-being.

Some researcher through research and survey claim, they found no empirical validation or correlation in character building in sportsmen. Few blamed youth especially high school kids having negative effect of sport and prone to unsportsmanlike conduct. Study but no play makes Jack dull boy! These findings can’t altogether be refuted as age and arena are variables which must be taken into account. Is cricket match between India and Pakistan or the world cup soccer match between Algeria and U.S. seen in sportsman spirit …..? Let the readers judge it for themselves.

Sport is believed teaching lessons; to learn to cooperate with others, develop positive social interaction, work together for a common goal, respond appropriately to victory and defeat, grow in virtues like courage, humility, patience, and perseverance, respect for oneself and others, fairness, grace in defeat, humility in victory. The traditionally-held notion that athletes build character through their participation in sports is something that certainly seems debatable based on our current sports and youth sports culture. If we base our opinion solely on what we see in the media regarding athletes and behavior- on and off the field, you would likely come away thinking that character building in competitive sports is non-existent. Sport journalism, razzle dazzle with razz matazz, brokers with bookies and betting, substance abuse and so many things have come in between. However, the customary thought process still holds merit with many.

Does sport really build character? That means moral excellence and firmness, in the perspective of today’s international competitive sports like cricketing, soccer; marathon racing, cycling etc. Are players doing the right thing under pressure? Is one’s ethical conduct consistent with oneself both on and off the field? As one’s character is not normally considered something that can be turned on and off like a switch, using it only when one deems it necessary!! That is evidently poor show of character. Playing competitive sports would naturally build one’s character if sports are governed by ideal rules. What if athletes with poor character still playing with winning at all costs attitudes, some even win? Does character overweigh winning when both are at odds?  How a conscious, determined, intentional effort and focus to shape one’s character through participation in competitive sports can become part of the solution? It’s said sportsmanship and fairness, compassion and consistency go hand in hand. The opportunity to develop moral values does exist through sport participation, it should be noted that participation in sport can also undermine the moral development of youth if it solely focuses on physical activity. That is moral behavior can be learnt from engaging with others or by one being taught ethical behavior. One particular study found youths involved in the sport experienced lower levels of anxiety and aggression, increased self esteem and improved social skills in comparison to those students who were trained only in physical self defense skills

Tae Kwon Do is a sport that emphasizes physical skills alongside the philosophy of the sport which includes reflection and meditation. Martial arts taught with a philosophy of respect, patience, responsibility and honor are related to decreased delinquency, when compared to martial arts taught with a focus on free sparring and self-defense. It is essential that coaches and administrators consider factors that foster moral values, build self esteem, develop social connectedness, as well as develop emotional, intellectual and physical growth of participants.

 The Ghulkin Youth Association held the event to reminisce Morris what he has enumerated feats of sporting such as empowering adolescents to be a part of the decision making process, fostering self improvement, provide community serving opportunities, and encourage social development. That all promotes fair play, focus on personal improvement such as working hard, co-operating with others and becoming good citizens.

The writer is media coordinator of the Association.

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