World Sports Day and Significance of Sports

Dr. Bilal A. Bhat & Afreen Niyaz

There is a well-known, old saying: “A sound mind is in a sound body”. Since far back in history, people have always sought out and invented various kinds and categories of sports. Playing sports helps the body to remain active and fit and enhances its immunity and protects it from diseases, and also promotes mental and emotional health. Sports from a social perspective is viewed as a means of bonding and enhancing cooperation among people, and it should not reach a level of unhealthy competition and hatred. Exercise in general and playing sports elevates energy levels, improves one’s attitude, which in turn will improve one’s energy level at work as well. The physically active are better able to travel, play with their children, and engage in social activities such as visiting relatives, visiting the sick, or coaching a youth sports team. From a religious standpoint, a healthy, strong, and fit body makes it much easier to perform many of the rituals. In Islamic perspective going for Umrah and Haj, the pilgrimage, are physically demanding tasks that sometimes involve long hours of walking, and being physically active will make the whole experience easier. Sports was the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (saw), He (saw) encouraged Sports for both men and women. Unfortunately, this Sunnah is one of the most neglected Sunnahs. A famous saying attributed to Omar ibn Al-Khattab highlights the sports practiced by early Muslims. He said, “Teach your children swimming, archery and horse-riding.” Islam encourages Muslims to be strong and to continuously strengthen one’s faith, and also their physical strength. Islam stresses the importance of spiritual and moral training that should accompany physical training, in order to achieve the desired effects. It is encouraged that a Muslim should include sports in his/her daily life to stay healthy in this world and earn the rewards for the Hereafter. The word “sport” comes from the Old French desport meaning “leisure”, with the oldest definition in English from around 1300 being “anything humans find amusing or entertaining” Sport (or sports) is all forms of usually competitive physical activity which, through casual or organized participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing entertainment to participants, and in some cases, spectators. Sport is generally recognized as activities which are based in physical athleticism or physical dexterity, with the largest major competitions such as the Olympic Games admitting only sports meeting this definition and other organizations such as the Council of Europe using definitions precluding activities without a physical element from classification as sports. However, a number of competitive, but non-physical, activities claim recognition as mind sports. Sports are usually governed by a set of rules or customs, which serve to ensure fair competition, and allow consistent adjudication of the winner. Youth sport indeed presents children with opportunities for fun, socialization, forming peer relationships, physical fitness, and athletic scholarships. It can bring positive results to one’s physical health. Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. Winning can be determined by physical events such as scoring goals or crossing a line first, or by the determination of judges who are scoring elements of the sporting performance, including objective or subjective measures such as technical performance or artistic impression. The competition element of sport, along with the aesthetic appeal of some sports, result in the popularity of people attending to watch sport being played. This has led to the specific phenomenon of ‘spectator sport’. Sport is a universal language and at its best it can bring people together, no matter what their origin, background, religious beliefs or economic status. And when young people participate in sports or have access to physical education, they can experience real exhilaration even as they learn the ideals of teamwork and tolerance. Sports science is a widespread academic discipline and can be applied to areas including athlete performance, such as the use of video analysis to fine-tune technique, or to equipment, such as improved running shoes or competitive swimwear. Sports engineering also emerged as a discipline in 1998 with an increasing focus not just on materials design but also the use of technology in sport, from analytics and big data to wearable technology. The increase in technology has also allowed many decisions in sports matches to be taken, or reviewed, off-field, with another official using instant replays to make decisions. In some sports, even players can now challenge decisions made by officials. Research suggests that sports have the capacity to connect youth to positive adult role models and provide positive development opportunities, as well as promote the learning and application of life skills. In recent years the use of sport to reduce crime, as well as to prevent violent extremism and radicalization, has become more widespread, especially as a tool to improve self-esteem, enhance social bonds and provide participants with a feeling of purpose. Worldwide billions of people are fans of various sports e.g., (a) Association football, 4 billion fans global level (b) Cricket , more than 2.5 billion fans global level (c) Field hockey, 2 billion, in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia (d) Tennis, 1 billion fans global level (e) Volleyball, 900 million, in Western Europe and North America (f) Table tennis, 875 million global level (g) Basketball, 825 million, global level (h) Baseball, 500 million, United States, Caribbean, and Japan (i) Rugby, 475 million, UK and Commonwealth (j) Golf, 450 million, in Western Europe, East Asia, and North America (Popularity in 2018 of major sports by size of fan base). The person working in any institute having sports indoor/outdoor sports facilities are lucky as they are able to share happiness with other fellow beings via sports. The author shared one picture which shows students teachers sharing sports love with each other. Sport no doubt is a universal language, it spans social, age and cultural boundaries. Walk into a park with two jumpers and a football and just wait for a diverse crowd of strangers to join together and share an experience. It is noticed that sports has an extraordinary ability to unite and build relationships.

“A sound mind is in a sound body”.
Organized, well-structured youth sports and on-going physical activities can provide many benefits for children and adolescents. Positive experiences that sports and an active lifestyle bring play an important role in a young person’s life. Physical exercise is good for body, mind and spirit. Sports not only serves as an excellent physical activity to improve general fitness, but also sports offer unique benefits. Engaging in sports from a young age not only strengthens bones and muscles, but also tones the body. It helps in increasing strength and stamina. Regular physical activity throughout the lifetime have control on maintaining the weight.Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive effects of playing sport on academic achievement, in large part because of the positive influence of identity formation and emotional development takes place here. Sports that involve aiming and hitting skills, for example, tennis, badminton and baseball help a player to increase focus. They help to develop leadership qualities and foster team spirit in kids as well.They involve in competitions, which involves winning and losing. This exposes children to both aspects of life, success and failure, and prepare them to accept both with a positive spirit.Whether you are playing sports, working out at a gym, or taking a brisk walk, physical activity triggers brain chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. Team sports in particular provide a chance to unwind and engage in a satisfying challenge that improves your fitness. They also provide social benefits by allowing a player to connect with teammates and friends in a recreational setting. Regular physical activity helps keep our key mental skills sharp as we age. Research has shown that doing a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities is especially helpful. Participating in this kind of activity three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes can provide these mental health benefits. When we are physically active, our mind is distracted from daily stressors and negative thoughts. Sports can even reduce the levels of stress hormones in our body. At the same time, it stimulates production of endorphins. These are natural mood lifters that can keep stress and depression at bay. Individual sports, such as running, cycling, and weightlifting, are all particularly effective ways to burn calories and/or build muscle. Staying within a recommended weight range reduces the likelihood of developing diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension. The regular exercise that comes with playing sports can boost our confidence and improve our self-esteem. Team sports such as soccer, baseball, and basketball are breeding grounds for leadership traits. Because of the opportunity to train, try, win, or lose together, people involved in sports are naturally more inclined to adopt a “team mindset” in the workplace and in social situations. The team mindset leads to strong leadership qualities over time. In sports, just like in life, one cannot win all the time. Playing a sport teaches children this truth early on in life. Therefore, children learn how to accept defeat and lose graciously. They learn how not to get disheartened and to get back up and try again. It also teaches them about healthy competition. Playing a sport requires some discipline and dedication. The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) is an annual celebration of the power of sport to drive social change, community development and to foster peace and understanding. Creating a historical link to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, 6 April was declared the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2013, and has been celebrated each year ever since 2014. The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC), in its capacity of Permanent Observer to the UN, has been supportive of this initiative, as it values its potential to recognise sports organisations’ role in and contribution to social change and human development. International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading to more countries, territories and regions of the world at an alarming rate and physical and social distancing practices are becoming commonplace to stop the spread of the disease. The closure of gyms, sport facilities and stadiums, public pools, dance studios, and playgrounds mean that many of us are not able to actively participate in individual or group sporting or physical activities, nor watch live sporting events. As a result, the global sporting community is facing serious challenges due to measures imposed in countless countries around the world. But that does not mean we should stop being physically active, nor should we disconnect from the coaches, teammates, instructors and fellow fans who not only help us to stay physically fit but also socially active. The World Health Organization recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both. WHO also have some tips on how to achieve this with no equipment and with limited space. There is an abundance of free and accessible online and digital tools targeted at encouraging people of all ages and abilities to stay active and mobile while remaining at home. Sport has the power to change the world; it is a fundamental right, a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and promote sustainable development and peace and well as solidarity, and respect. Through our unique individual skills and collective power, we can come together and share creative ways to improve our health and well-being through sport and physical activity – even from the confines of our own homes. In the lead up to and on 6 April, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, we are asking everyone to be active, stay healthy and demonstrate solidarity during this period of physical and social distancing. This team spirit will help us all get through the current challenges together. It is concluded that we should not neglect our bodies, and regular physical exercise is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
(Dr. Bilal A. Bhat is an Associate Professor SKUAST Shalimar Srinagar and Afreen Niyaz, a Research Scholar at Kashmir University Srinagar. Views are their own, bhat_bilal@rediffmail.com)

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