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by Debajyoti Das

People sometimes tell me sports is a waste of time in today’s world. Kicking a ball around does not invent the tomorrows that we dream of. I used to wonder at times about it myself. Then I thought come on! It is only the man that has stood there in the field, kicked the ball inside the goalposts, smacked that homerun or striked out a player that will know what it is to be there and having done that!

When you see that ball floating into the distance for that homerun, when you see your chums screaming for you, it is a today you want to live in forever, who's bothered about tomorrow, I may not hit that homerun tomorrow! The worst part about missing out on being a sportsperson is that you don’t even know WHAT you actually missed out on. Thankfully enough I didn’t land up in that group and if you read this, finish it, throw the magazine you are holding and run off for that outdoor tryst with happiness. I am somewhat flustered to observe that somehow sports has been relegated to being what people today call recreation. ‘Recreation’, that’s it, I don’t know about you guys but I am screaming here!! It is not recreation and cannot be recreation, it’s a bloody way of life and I’d like to keep it that way.

Hi! I am one of those guys who is a total sports freak. Funnily enough at times I get freaked out ‘during’ sports also. Though that is a recent phenomenon only after I joined law school which ate up most of my time. However, when I do recall my school days and rather ‘sports days’ this Bryan Adams song comes fluttering into my mind... “Those were the best days of my life...” Law school tells me one must keep learning, education is learning, life is nothing without knowledge and I wonder what I learnt from what I call ‘The best days of my life’. Once again I realize I learnt about myself and evolved a better ‘me’. Sports gave me character, it taught me not to underestimate anyone, it taught me the spirit of competition, the sportsman spirit where winning isn’t everything. But that’s just the lighter and more flowery side isn’t it?

What sports really does is to give you the hunger for victory, the craving for success and that immensely important trait of ‘never give up till the end’. The game is not over till the whistle is blown. Some of these things are taught to you in the Kellogs Business School but only after you paid that hefty sum of money, when all you needed to do was to step onto that field and play ball! Well Recently I got my hands onto Lance Armstrong’s biography. By the time I flipped the second page I knew it wasn’t your average homosapien fighting cancer. Oh no! It was rather a thorough sportsman, a world class cyclist that beat cancer hands down. He writes about the spirit of sports and the spirit that helped him beat cancer. Of course the annals of history are witness that he came back and won another Tour-de-France after recovering. So guess what; sometimes it can help you against cancer too!

Now, whatever I have mentioned above are just the things you can actually learn and evolve in your mind. Most naturally there are a plethora of benefits that you reap on the physical front. Healthy sporting experiences are an evergreen spring for a healthy body. Researchers today have established that people who take part actively in sporting activities have a longer life expectancy. As a fringe benefit please note that researchers have also proved that active sportsmen are a ‘happier’ and a more ‘satisfied’ lot. Just to drive the point home, sports helps in maintaining your blood pressure, sustains the strength of your bones avoiding osteoporosis and need I even say that sportspersons are never ever going to join the very infamous club of people who are, ‘obese’. Academics is a lonely exercise to say the least, but sports is usually a team effort, so you know a team and you are there for them while they are there for you. More than once my life has shown me examples where the ‘teammateship’ goes outside the playing arena and people end up making the best of friends.

You know, lets say I forget all this...Even then sports opens up to you the floodgates to an ocean of fantastic opportunities, today it has merged and blended wonderfully with the entertainment industry and although Hollywood’s big bucks are ahead they aren’t very far off. Sport stars also earn the big bucks and hard cash. Now you are thinking, “I am not as good as Tiger Woods”... well ask yourself if Mr. woods knew how good he was before he actually stepped onto the greens and played golf. I think everyone is just naturally tuned and cut out for some or the other sports, one just need to give himself the opportunity to find out which one. For instance, if you are already fat maybe you can push a few people around in Rugby, if you are thin try becoming the next Svetlana Khorkhina (The gymnastic queen). Our own Garry Kasparov is a club level soccer player and he says physical fitness is a must for the mental strains that chess requires. Which, brings us to another point in the long list of benefits that sports can have. A healthy body is the best temple of a healthy mind and the brain is usually at its rollicking best if your body is in tip-top shape.

So I sit back and wonder, friends, if kicking around a ball can have so many advantages how come people have lost interest in the charms of the game. Where has the hunger for the games disappeared. Then I look around me and observe that it is the world of specialization that has created a need to train yourself rigorously and that has left us with very little time for play. I think everyone is thinking about kindergarten and that famous quote they learnt there, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Well it still is so true.

You know, playing for ones national team is a matter of pride, immense pride and trust me it’s a proud moment even if you step out in your school colors. You know Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” When I was the captain of my soccer team at school our coach said, “Ask not what the school can do for you ask what you can do for your school.” Today, I borrow a very famous phrase from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to tell you “Friends, Romans and Countrymen stop ASKING and start ACTING.” Here I seek to stretch the perimeter of our exercise beyond sports and into life. Be committed in whatever you do, whenever you do. However, manage your time and kick a ball or two and you will be a man with a character which you could have never otherwise have had.

Of course in more ways than one sports is a beautiful recreation also but like I told you... Make it a part of life, correction essential part of life, correction ‘a way of life!’ 

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