The Commonwealth Games got over just last month, and the Indian contingent did us proud with a great performance. We cheered for them, for their efforts and lauded their victories but ask an Indian parent whether they would encourage their own children to choose sports over academics and most would respond with a NO. Let’s face it academics always wins, hands down. This, despite the well established fact that physical education and sports activities are highly beneficial to health and lead to improved academic performance.
While Indian parents believe that sports comes in the way of academics, Robert Bobby former national champ in triple jump and husband and coach of International athlete Anju Bobby believes the opposite. Academics has been the ruin of sports in India.
Those may be seen like strong words, but Bobby an engineer says that students are burdened with too much academics. Thus they find no time for sports. In reality, there is no need to burden them with so much up to class 10.
In fact, he says he could have done much better as an athlete but for studies, he could not excel in sports because of academics.
However, sports benefited him in many ways. Sports brings discipline to your life. It helps you to keep to a routine. It makes you work hard and makes you committed. You can study the whole year’s academic portions in a week and do well in an exam, but you cannot train for a sports event in only one week. You need constant practice. Also, you learn how to accept failure.
Further sports help in physical and mental health. It’s the best way to channelise students’ energies. Otherwise they might end up spending all the time watching TV or playing computer games. This may be because they do not have enough space around their homes. So, there’s no better place than a school for sports. Which is why sports should be made part of the curriculum.
Even if five out of a 100 children take to a sport, they can take it to higher level. China for example begins sports very early. By the time gymnasts are 18, they are ready to retire. They reach their peak. At 12-13 years.
Play and sports are an important part of a child’s development. Sports means participating in group activity which is an important lesson for life. If you don’t allow a child who is good at sports to go ahead an instead insist that he / she stick to academics you are not allowing him to realize his full potential.
Further sports could develop a sense of team work, so necessary in the Indian set up which otherwise emphasizes on individual excellence in terms of marks. But in real life and at the work place team work is a must. Sports also changes the outlook towards life, You become a positive person. You are open to change and are a little more broadminded. You learn to adapt, to be flexible in all situations and not rigid because you may have to sleep in a classroom at a sports camp, or travel third class in an unreserved compartment.
Thus it is heartening to know that the education system is attempting a change. Education is not only about textbooks and academics. Sports is also a part of it and a crucial one at that. When children play a game, they work in groups, and learn to strategize. They analyze their strengths and weaknesses. There are so many life skills involved. This is in addition to the direct benefits sports has on health. CBSE gives attendance to all children who miss class because of sporting activities.
Currently students are graded in sports too. But what about giving them marks for sports, since ultimately that is what matters to most Indian parents? Would that be carrying it too far? We are thinking of adding the sports grade to the final grade in the scholastic area. Whether that happens or not, at least some steps have been taken to ensure there is importance given to sports.