December 11, 2004

Society and Sports - David Bernhardt

Although we all love to watch our children play soccer, swim, play tennis, basketball, hockey and even lacrosse and field hockey, it is becoming incredibly important that we keep the role of sports in our life in perspective.

In the last few weeks, we have witnessed a basketball arena erupt in violence while young and old watched their "role models" explode with out of control anger and vigor. We have seen the "elite" track and field athletes questioned and suspected of artificial results.

What are our expectations of these athletes and our own son and daughters? Hopefully, it is to watch them compete, have fun and perform to the best of their natural ability. When society begins to focus on winning at all costs, we see where the fun leaves the sport, performance enhancement cheating begins and frustration of continual expectation boil over in an unexpected violence. In addition, the rapid firing of college coaches from an upstanding university where the student-athletes were students first and athletes second, makes one again question the values of the institutions of higher learning.

We would love to think that all of this is new. However, consider Rudy Tomjavonich having his face destroyed by Kermit Washington. Consider Ben Johnson and others having their gold medal and world championships stripped.

Today's events should not be that surprising. Until society changes some of their expectations, the athletes will continue to look at ways to cheat, violence will continue to infect the culture of sport and colleges will maintain their win first and education second mentality.

Considering all of this, it has been a treat watching Brett Favre continue to compete and overcome his personal problems and personal tragedy over the last year. He continues to play a GAME like our son or daughter might do on a Saturday morning whether it is soccer, tennis, or football. He plays for the FUN of the game and although disappointed, seems to recover quickly after a tough loss and not stay too high after a big win. Sure he makes some mistakes but he realizes this is just a GAME. There are bigger issues in the world - his father, his brother-n-law and now his wife to name a few. Hopefully, society can begin to focus on SPORT as a GAME, to be played for FUN as a way of entertaining us, keeping us healthy and improving our health -- physical and mental -- both as a participant and a spectator.

This attitude would go along way to solving many of the ills of sport -- the NHL strike, the violence, the performance enhancement. Yes this sounds simple but it also might keep children and adolescents participating when they want to give up a sport when it becomes too competitive.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by David Bernhardt at December 11, 2004 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Well said, David. Thanks for posting this.

Posted by: Jim Zellmer at December 21, 2004 10:23 AM
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