I read with amusement about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge competing against each other in a dragonboat race in Quebec and that the Duke won and he reportedly said to Kate “There is no chivalry in sport.” At this time of the year as we seem to move from one school sports day to another via a school swimming gala, I thought about sport and how important it is.
The other day Jay played a game of U11s cricket for Studley Roger versus Knaresborough Forest and Studley Roger were winning until the last pair went in and were out 3 times, so losing 18 runs for their team (they play pairs cricket). One of those who was out came back in tears, threw his helmet down and sat on a bench with his back to everyone, so his mother went over and used those disastrous words “Don’t worry, it’s just a game”, to which he rightly replied “No, it’s not just a game: I let down my friends and we lost” or as Bill Shankly said “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you it’s much more serious than that.”
Sport teaches us teamwork, including responsibilities to others, and individual skills. Most importantly it teaches us about working hard to succeed and win. Sport is nothing without winning, without the sweet joy of beating others in a race or a football match, but it also teaches us to hurt when we lose. There is nothing worse than measly phrases that go along the lines of “It’s all about the taking part”. No, it is about hurting when you lose, getting up from the floor and trying harder to get better and win next time. There is too much sympathy given to average performances, and mediocrity in general, and we must all strive in our lives to do a bit better and to win a little more. Then when we have won and done with winning, we can be gracious in our success and spread some of your joy in winning to help others improve and teach and hand on our secrets of success.
Sport, also, teaches us about taking risks, embracing risk to achieve things we never expected to be able to do. We live lives that are too soft and cosseted by rules and regulations, so have become almost incapable of understanding and balancing risks in our daily lives, expecting rewards to come to us without any risk attached or hard work put in. We must all get real.