The power of Sport

Sport has to be one of the most powerful ways to get people to come together and create cohesion usually amongst that teams supporters. Whatever the sport, there is always competition, camaraderie and the challenge. The competitive nature of sport playing men and woman and indeed even the supporters who may not play actively themselves creates a constant dynamic battle to be the best you can be individually and to be the best team that you can be too. So many fans watch and critique from their couch, full disclosure {I am one of them} but don’t know or perhaps if they played sport, they have forgotten the huge commitment, the blood, sweat and tears that is required to be the best and to give it your all. This natural competition that is generated helps us to push each other harder. If the opposing team, let’s say the British and Irish Lions currently on tour in South Africa versus the Springboks manages to score a try, there is immediate pressure on you to score against them and they in turn have pressure to tackle and defend as if their lives depended on it to try and stem the green tide of Springboks.

This constant competitive nature of athletes and sportsmen and woman and the challenge of competing against their rivals and indeed, also against themselves is the reason that people are such passionate supporters of their teams or even just enjoy good quality sport without necessarily supporting one team. It’s because you see the team and or individuals giving it everything against each other. You see the ref making a wise decision ie {A penalty against the opposition} and a very dubious decision {such as if the other team gets a penalty try against you due to ‘cynical’ play}. You make your satisfaction or outrage known both by the volume of your voice and your hand gestures and body language. You cheer on the wing as he sidesteps through the opposition and then dives over the try line for a try and you scream bloody murder when you see the opposition dart between your defensive line like they’re a bad habit and none of them make what you can clearly see are easy tackles or dont tackle both the man and the ball allowing the ball to be passed onwards and towards the wing or possibly the flyhalf to make that risky drop goal attempt. You wait with bated breath and if it’s your flyhalf and it’s successful, you will give a whoop of congratulations or perhaps a reluctant nice if you thought they could have gone for a try, however, let the kick be unsuccessful or let it be the opposition and you will disect the last 10 minutes of the game, showing what were obvious holes in your defence, the strategy of the team, the ref, the coaching staff, you name it.

Bottom line? If there’s one activity that can get your blood rushing, light up your enthusiasm like a powder keg on fire or cause utter depression, frustration and subdued {for a while} behaviour, then there is nothing in this world like sport. The ability of the player/s to make such sacrifices, put their bodies on the line, show courage and humility in winning and in defeat, gather themselves for the final push and then let their genuine emotions come to the fore as exhausted, they are either smiling and happy or totally knackered and dejected but it’s all real. It’s genuine, it’s heartfelt. There is something pure and primitive about sport and perhaps that’s also why it appeals to us. It can unite all of us, regardless of nationality, race or sex. Think of the British premier league. Almost anywhere you go in the world, you will hear in a sports bar or any conversation amongst sporting fans when it comes to football, the proud declaration of the fact that your a Liverpool supporter {shame} or a proud Tottenham Spurs supporter {Lucky you}. If you have a couple of fellow supporters in the group, you immediately have some camaraderie and a bond. You share the same tribe so to speak. You take great pleasure in knocking the opposition. Some valid and fair points and some perhaps {slightly} biased comments about them and every so often, a grudging word of admiration about a player, the team or even the coach. This is respect. It cannot be bought, it cannot be faked, this is genuine respect and respect is earned. Surely, there is no other field of endeavour where so much respect is both shown and earned and sometimes taken away then the sporting arena.

In this world where politicians in particular and supposed leaders make outrageous statements, where there is so much ignorance and intolerance and hatred, where so many people seem to struggle to understand that you can agree to disagree and that keeping quiet and holding your peace is not surrender. Sport is one of the few mediums that can connect people with sometimes wildly disparate opinions. From those against the vaccines for the Covid pandemic to those who support an ex president who wears a Toupe, abused everyone who disagreed with him, sowed discord and disharmony every time his mouth opened, and was lets just say less then honest with constant claims made about himself and against anyone who was foolish enough to disagree or contradict him. Sports gives us the opportunity to find some ground in common and in this world of extreme views and lack of tolerance, this is a vital part of how we get to be closer together as people and societies and how we can build cohesion versus destruction.

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