Work That Body

OR ….. 7 Reasons Why Sport Is Ace

Our lives seem to be saturated with sport at the moment – Euros, Wimbledon, Tour de France, Golf, London Olympics – which is great for people like me, but tedious for others. While I understand that not everyone wants to have all the minutiae of sporting victories and disappointments thrust forward for their attention, I just wanted to stand up for sport and its positive aspects. So I gave it a bit of thought and came up with the following seven reasons why sport is ace:-

1. It gives some of us a focus in life

OK, so you are focussed on your education or your job or your family. Or you’re involved in campaigns and pressure groups and that’s what directs your life. Not everyone has the opportunity or confidence or ability (for whatever reason) to do that stuff, but sport gives them something special. Maybe it’s THE thing – what they shine at, what people will finally notice them for, what raises their self-esteem, the thing they want to get up for every morning, the thing they aspire to. Just because it doesn’t necessarily float your boat, it might be the only thing that enables some people to be active and engaged in the world.

2. It helps maintain a healthy heart

And lungs, and other body parts. It gets our bodies moving and working as they were meant to. That means our energy levels are increased and so we’ll feel like doing other stuff like gardening or playing with the children which are fun and rewarding in many different ways. Our muscle tone and strength will improve, we’ll reduce body fat and look healthy and rosy-cheeked. And who knows what that might lead to!

3. It’s Inspirational

Most successful sportspeople were inspired by some other sportspeople, and they will go on to inspire more in the future. Bradley Wiggins (allez!Wiggo) was inspired by Chris Boardman;  Paula Radcliffe is inspired by Mo Farah; how many youngsters have been inspired by David Beckham? For me, few are more inspirational than South African “Bladerunner” Oscar Pistorius; born with no bones below his knees,  his motivation has been so immense that he will be competing against able-bodied athletes at the forthcoming Olympic Games, and aims to get to the semi-finals of the 400m. Top 24 in the world! Good luck to you,Oscar; you are ace! We are (or could be) stimulated to a higher level of activity and achievement by watching the performance of others, and this is a positive thing.

4. It promotes teamsmanship

(I know that’s not a real word because it now has a red squiggly line under it, but I like it) Learning to work in a team is an important life skill; we all have different things to offer and that’s what makes the world go round ……(what?? really? not love?). Team sports develop our capacity for cooperation; we learn to listen to others’ ideas and strategies, bring them into play, evaluate their worthiness, appreciate each member’s contribution , give and receive praise and encouragement, and all in a supportive environment. Even individual athletes have a team – the Tour de France winner has a team of riders and technical support, Becky Adlington has a coach and possibly nutritionist, mentor and “keeper of the shoes”. As some dish-faced rich guy* once said, “We’re all in this together” (but that’s another story).

5. It gets kids off the street

(Or, in the case of my son and his mates, on the street in a skateboarding stylee). No-one really likes to see groups of teens hanging around, seemingly aimlessly, smoking or shrieking at the tops of their voices just trying to provoke a response (which is what’s going on next to my house right now). Personally, I would love to see those kids getting energetic – riding bmx, skating, playing footie or tennis, learning to surf; and I bet they’d enjoy it too if they gave it a chance. Better to be part of something than apart from everything.

6. Endorphins and serotonin

These are the hormones that make us feel good; they wrap us in a cuddly soft blanket of contentment. Now who wouldn’t want that?? They are released into our bloodstreams after we do physical exercise giving us a sense of power, euphoria and, yes, happiness (they’re also released after eating spicy food, during floatation and having an orgasm but I’ll leave those for another post).  When we feel relaxed and happy we function better with other people, are less grouchy, have fewer violent tendencies, can ward off anxiety, sleep better and feel less stressed. Sounds like good news all round. Hooray for the hormones!

7. Winning feels good

Winning feels great! Winning is bloody marvellous!  You trained for it; you made sacrifices along the way; you worked out your tactics (or maybe your megamoney sponsor paid someone to work them out for you); you gritted your teeth; you persevered; you did it! The elation of winning is second to none – at least for the time immediately after your victory – if you are winning as part of a team, it’s manyfold.  GROUP HUG!

Of course, it’s not all about the winning, is it? It’s the taking part…..

My netball team. 2011 Winter League runners-up and Summer League winners!

                                                                                                                               (*David Cameron)


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