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Patanjali Sokaris

Pondering the universe

Sport as a metaphor for life

That's a big stretch!

Seems that when talk comes to being a peak performer in life, the inevitable metaphors seem to be all centred about sports. But can the approach of sports high-achievers really apply to the rest of us?

False competition ^

Almost everything is being made into a competition these days to get our attention, but is competition good in our daily lives?

From the time we go to school, we are encouraged to participate in sport, mostly by being relegated to a 'house', sometimes simply being a colour, for which we are expected to exhibit great enthusiasm.

That is a rather arbitrary form of loyalty, but it sets us on the path of being unnecessarilly biased in how we relate to others, rather than choosing our loyalties based on our own criteria. Even if some choose to change their minds, they still tend to choose to bias their loyalty by choosing another team, rather than opt out of such arbitrary loyalties altogether.

But does such competition really serve us in the rest of our lives?

While sports may be a means of improving ourselves, if rather time-consuming, our working and personal lives generally do not rely on a competitive attitude.

Except for a few teams working upon assessing competitors, most of our working lives revolves around ways of working together with everyone we come in contact with. We don't want anyone to be the losers in some arbitrary competition, because the company or organisation for which we work will suffer, usually by increased overheads, or distracting loss of correctly-directed effort. In fact, we really need to want everybody to be the best they can be.

A competitive attitude wants others to lose, and continue to lose, which can only undermine morale. Rather than directing one's thoughts toward bettering the organisation, competition seeks to view one's fellow workers as the 'enemy'. That is rather small-minded, and more akin to promoting cancer as a means of health, just because cancer cells grow faster, where that growth is at the expense of the whole.

A competitive attitude only creates disharmony among family members. Families rely upon a lot of self-sacrifice. They help us to realise the emotional reality that we are part of something to which we must give of ourselves freely, in order for our own lives to be enriched.

If a parent is especially devoted to a particular team, they will tend to expect their children to follow it, as well as expecting them to perform well in their school sports. Instilling such arbitrary biases in their children is running counter to helping them to be what they can do best, which is the best that a parent can do. Teaching children blind loyalty is setting them up to be manipulated by those they look up to, but who may not deserve it.

To become their own person, children have to learn to trust their own judgement, learning through their own experience, but heavily guided by their parent, teachers and peers. If they are trained early to follow blindly, without consideration of true merit, they have to suppress their own judgement to fit in. They have been sabotaged. If they later realise this, they will have a lower opinion of those who manipulated them, and justly so, because those who are particularly one-eyed about their sports teams tend to be uncompromisingly opinionated about other parts of life, leading to lots of butting heads. Being assertive is one thing, and necessary to stand up for what one believes, but being uncompromisingly biased is another.

Not healthy ^

Sport is often promoted as a way of getting fit, but is the risk of injuries and the level of fitness required for competing in excess of what we need for living our lives?

In contact sports, this leads to more injuries than one would get in any other activity. That results in downtime at work and reduced capacity to tend to one's family.

Also, with sport requiring being focussed upon what is going on around you, rather than what is happening in your body at the time, you are more likely to destructively overstretch your body.

Because sports require many skills not necessary to the rest of one's life, they require effort in excess of what is really necessary to be healthy enough for the other parts of your life. You often have to do a lot more exercise and eat more than if you did what is sufficient to be healthy.

The amount of exercise to be healthy depends upon what your work is, but will tend to be a lot less in effort and time than if engaged in any sport. Just walking can be enough for most to be healthy.

Basically, doing just enough exercise to be fit for the other parts of your life will give you the most time for those other parts.

Promotes elitism ^

Winning implies losing, and high-profile sports requires few winners and relegates the rest to being losers, but is this a good attitude for living?

Except for a few losers who get to remain in the competition, everyone else is relegated to being a spectator. So, instead of finding out what you might be better at, these sports want you to pay to fund them, and spend time following them. You become fodder that feeds the perpetuation of a business model that relies upon elitism.

Like many forms of entertainment, sports try to get you to buy into the belief that you can be among the best, but for most, the cards are stacked against you, typically because you have so many other responsibilities to fulfil that you cannot devote the time required to be successful in such a pursuit.

False career hopes ^

There are efforts to promote sports careers as a balance to academic persuits.

The fact is that very few will be able to have a sports career compared to almost any other profession, so the promotion is quite disingenuous, especially considering that student's time is better spent on schooling, rather than sports, in creating opportunities for a career.

If anything, self-improvement exercises, rather than sports, would be more conducive to study, as they would require less time to perform, and be less likely to end in injuries.

Vicarious involvement ^

Top end sports rely heavily upon spectators spending on attending and buying merchandice, rather than participating in the sport itself.

How many refer to how 'their' team went on the weekend? But how many actually played in the team? Almost none. That highlights the essentially vicarious nature of sports. That is, for most, sports is a sedentary talking point, rather than a truly participatory activity.

Sports organisations are attempting to spin that being an emotionally charged spectator is the major driver for their team's commitment, as if huge salaries and their bustling merchandising industry is secondary.

Yes, it is true that their followers' enthusiasm is key, but sports organisations don't really need, nor want, high levels of sports participation. That would tend to put pressure on them to allow more participation in the decision-making process, especially in the money distribution. No, small numbers of sportspeople, but high numbers of arms-length paying spectators suit sports organisations quite well.

While women's sports are receiving higher recognition at this time, and it could be seen as a sign of approaching equality, it affects so very few women that the publicity is just spin that serves to rope in more female spectators. To be truly equal, teams should not be based upon gender at all, but ability.

Just entertainment ^

Basically, sport is entertainment, but it is promoted emotionally as if you must believe it is really important to you.

Like most entertainment, to contain advertising budgets, sports promotion requires a few recognisable people that become their 'faces', rewarding them hugely. However, that relegates the rest to having to survive on the dregs, or fund themselves.

Those 'faces' are often promoted as heroes, though they have nothing in common with those who actually risk their lives in service to others. Heroes usually earn that title because they have mostly died as a result of their self-sacrifice, but sports heroes do no such thing.

However, the most insidious aspect of sport is their monster merchandising efforts to reap more money to perpetuate their false competitions, sucking up funds that their followers could put to use in improving their own lives, rather than supporting a belief pyramid scheme. Without that misplaced belief, sports would collapse.

Many sports teams used to be seen as representives of a locale, and followers saw their own fortunes following wins or losses, as they were often powerless to change their own station in life. However, once teams started disconnecting from particular locales, usually resulting from changing demographics, the masters of the sport realised they had to drum up support from the new demographics by working up a belief frenzy in them.

Entertainment serves a very important role of enabling us to disconnect from the stresses of our daily lives. That sports then try to bind us into their world of stress highlights how desperate they are to keep their profitable money stream.

But then a lot of entertainment forms are trying to position themselves as being central to our lives, above and beyond the effect they actually have upon our lives, beyond what we give to them by our beliefs.

Perhaps choose your entertainment so you have some distraction from life's pressures, but not so much that it supplants them with its own. See humour and chances for levity in the minutae of your own life.

Aggression ^

The competitve nature of sport can help develop some aggressive attitudes. While they may be useful to drive you to achieve, for most of life's tasks, aggression is disruptive, and not in a good way, as it is focussed on you rather than what benefits all.

Many confuse aggression and assertiveness. Assertiveness is required to stand up for an idea or outcome, but with the attitude that there is no loss if it is not accepted, as all you are trying to do is get it a fair airing. Conversely, aggression requires the idea or outcome be accepted, and that any others lose. Assertiveness highlights possibilities, whereas aggressiveness divides.

Be yourself ^

Many push sports for self-improvement, but you don't have to take on a whole competitive regime to be better.

Being involved in sports puts you under pressure to conform to what others, many of whom don't really care about your needs, decide is best for you, though what they really want is for you to fulfil their agenda. If you cannot do that, through injury, or it not really being within your capabilities, you are discarded and forgotten, often copping some abuse on the way from disgruntled 'fans'.

Fitness does not not require performing potentially dangerous or straining activities, but just enough movement, often enough, to have a body adequate to support the rest of your life's activities. If you want to improve yourself, you decide what and when to do that, rather than be defined by others' expectations of you, and what you should do.

For some, having a coach push you to perform may help you get motivated, but reliance on that means you do not really have that motivation within you, often resulting in a relapse to former habits when that pushing is withdrawn. You have to own your own motivation to really improve.

It's your life, and you need to get to a place where you are defining who you are, what you want to be, and so what sort of body and attitudes you need to fulfil that. You can get appropriate help to do that, but only for as long as you need. You don't need to buy into other people's agendas. Live your own life, under your own terms!

TS: art-a 3ID: 2017-05-28-00-00-00Now: 2020-07-06-07-52-40Powered by: Smallsite Design©Patanjali SokarisManage