The Educational Value of Sports:
Through education, we understand the harmonious development of the mind and the body, and this purpose is admirably served by sports. It is one of the paradoxes of life that when we consciously seek joy, half of the joy of gaining is lost. Real enjoyment lies in getting something unexpected. In sports, we go out more for enjoyment than for physical benefit. It is for this very reason that our body profits more quickly and definitely by sports. There is no sense of dullness in them, no undesirable sameness or routine work as is often associated with the dumb-bells exercise. Each movement in hunting or boating or in a football or cricket match is full of new thrills. What benefits the mind, influences the body also. Hence sports serve the purpose of physical exercise and bring an additional benefit in the form of recreation or pleasure.
The joys of sports are keen because they are unexpected. No doubt, we go out for recreation, but we have no idea beforehand of the nature of the joy which we will get. Each step in the game has its new thrills. And this newness is kept up till the end, affording us varieties of joy. Moreover, success at every stage is a new incentive for its continuation and this prolongs the period of recreation. The succession of new thrills and joys is not to be found to the same degree in other forms of physical culture. Now, joy is essential to life; it prolongs life and makes it worth living, and a part of this joy is given to us by sports.
The presence of mind is another virtue that we associate with sports. The varying fortunes of games and the lightning changes in situations teach us the paramount necessity of adaptability to circumstances. A losing match may be won by the presence of the mind of the captain. Stories about hunting often tell us of the amazing intelligence and presence of mind shown by hunters in critical situations. We read how one hunter by simply closing and opening his umbrella quickly frightened away a lion, how another, on the point of being killed by a bear, stopped his breath and was consequently given up for a dead man.
No less important is the coolness of nerves that we find in sportsmen, especially in big game hunters. Repeated dangers, mishaps, and reverses harden them and make their nerves strong. Coolness in face of dangers and steadiness of purpose are the qualities they derive from sports. These cure them of nervousness and enable them to meet trying situations of life. So the benefits derived from sports are applied to our life also.
A sportsman is noted for his sense of discipline, and his willing obedience to rules. Discipline, which is so difficult to acquire in the case of an ordinary man, comes easy to a sportsman who is accustomed to teamwork. A sportsman knows that error or negligence on the part of one will disgrace and endanger the rest. Like soldiers, they choose to rise and fall in a body. And discipline so learnt is a great thing in life as it saves time and energy and brings order and method in our work.
Another virtue that we find in a sportsman is his abiding sense of honor and truthfulness. Accustomed to living in the open air, frank and straight in his ways, so unlike the ways of politicians, he is always open and frank. A strict sense of honor marks his conduct. So intimately his honor is bound up with sports that we often speak of sportsmanly conduct, sportsmanly behavior, or fair play. He will rather lose the game than be false to his honor.
These are some of the mental and moral uses of sports. It is said that the battle of waterloo was won in the fields of Eton. This is true because the character of a nation depends, to a large extent, upon its recreations, and the greatness of England is largely due to its manly sports and pastimes. Sports teach men presence of mind, the coolness of nerves, fellow-feeling, and discipline. These endow them with a true sense of honor and fill them with joy.