Over a nail biting game of Saints Vs. Vikings, my brother made a simple statement: "Kids should be introduced to active sports from Day 1, the decision making, the active mind and the logic automatically form at an early stage!" Very true... he and SD went on to talk about some guy in CNBC who hosts a financial show and was a former NFL player. Impressive. It led me to think about a very senior colleague in a Fortune 50 who was a former championship boxer! Wow. I loved to be in meetings with him, he was concise, straight to the point and aggressive at the right level. I think I was more puppy eyed in his meetings than anything else! ;-)
I grew up in India. Till ninth grade, I was very involved with extra curricular activities. At any given point, I would be either practicing for a play for teachers day, or for a dance sequence for Helpers day. Or writing my elocution speech. Volunteering with my friends for Interact/ Rotract. Though I was never really great at sports (Read Lazy!!!), but I always participated for the qualifiers for all races, and javelin throws, and high jumps and so on. But sadly, I was just content being well in the bottom five ;-) I was really bad. But when it came to table tennis, swimming I rocked. Of course, march past! I was active on sports day's but more from the cheering side. My parents appreciated all these activities and were very proudly storing all my participating, some winning and other certificates and limited medals. But my father was also very clear, all my extra participation was fine, provided my grades stand good. There was zero margin of error. And I loved the other stuff so much, that I always did burn the midnight oil to do well in studies! The weird and geeky part is I enjoyed studying as much as I enjoyed the other stuff.
But then the lovely board exams. I opted out voluntarily of most of extra curricular. Our school didn’t encourage it as well. Then came college, well first year was definitely a party and then twelfth was board again! Then came engineering. Well. By now, college, early adulthood charms, movies, eating out, chilling with friends, bunking classes, "enjoying" took precedence over anything else. I was somewhat back to my "extra" stuff. But unlike school, it was infrequent. I got more and more involved in event planning and execution and not as much participation. I guess debating was the only thing I willingly participated in! Sports, what sports? Does dodge ball count ;-)? I mean my team and I were unbeaten champions for four years of engineering ;-) Hehe. But yes, the sports week implied: TP!! We went to college on keys games: read Finals when there was attendance! The remainder was well: being out of college! It could range from planned family vacations to total "lukha giri" on Bandra. Again, every thing was excusable and acceptable, provided the grades stood rock solid. And once again, the geeky me, overtook the chilled out me! :-D
I kept going farther and farther away from "sports". Swimming which was passion all my growing up years, took a back seat. Everything else in life took precedence over my activity level. And sadly, the similar was the case for most people around me.
Now, we have conversations with friends and family and say- oh, sports in India, if you are not in Cricket, nothing else will matter. It's not as popular in India since we are not brought up that way. Indians is the second most populated country, but every Olympics it’s a handful of people in it. Look at China! There are just enough state of the art facilities. and so on...
When i look back at all my school- college years. I think; I grew lazy, and distant from sports. There was no outside pressure, there was no one telling what to do and not do. I made my choice. I didn’t play TT, though I had two tables and semester championships in college. I had a table in my building for crying out loud. The pool and the club house were ten minutes away. But I considered watching friends and then talking about "How could Ross do that" over the phone more engrossing than a swim! I myself digressed, and didn’t even try to cultivate my own talents. I might not have been a champion... but at least I would have the pride of following through.
No wonder the sports teachers, the gym instructors back home, are underpaid and super frustrated. Since they see; whatever efforts they put in is going to waste. Since the kid will move to things which give them instant pleasure and not a long term benefit! What's the point of the state of the art facilities when only a few people use it!
I only see that now. Not back then. .. Then it was just the "uncool" thing to do!
Yes.. this is my story.. And definitely other people might not agree.....but sadly I don’t know many. Do you?
Things in India are changing now, i am told. And i am happy about that! I really do hope the future generations, start seeing the benefits of sports at an earlier age.. and more importantly continue it through their lives! And yes... The grades unaffected! ;-)