Is sport considered to be a risk too far in modern day society?

Whilst contemplating this blog I have started to think about the place of sport in our lives. We all know the physical benefits of sport and are often subject to healthy lifestyle campaigns about regular exercise, informing us that all adults should take part in 30 minutes of pulse raising activity daily and high intensity exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes 5 times a week. Those of us doing this are less likely to suffer coronary heart disease or osteoporosis and so on. Yet in today’s society 80% of women are not taking part in the recommended levels of sport to stay healthy. Is sport considered to be a risk too far in modern day society?

I started to think about the idea of risk taking and sport as a vehicle for this. Look at Beth Tweddle one of Great Britain’s most celebrated Olympic gymnasts who made the decision to participate in the reality television show ‘The Jump’. During the show she suffered a serious injury resulting in back surgery having fractured one of her vertebrae. She is making inroads on her road to recovery, but this begs the question, was this area of sport and this challenge one step too far? In this instance we are looking at extreme sports, and we know that sports people are on the whole ‘adrenaline junkies’;  when they have finished competing at a high level will they always be seeking the next challenge? But is this why they are so successful? Do they assess the risk and decide that it is manageable? When anyone steps into the field of competitive sport there is a huge risk and the possibility that, despite all the hard work and training, you will play your best of your ability and still not be successful. Is this a life lesson that we all need to learn? It makes me think of the quote by the world’s most famous basketball player Michael Jordan;

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.’

Perhaps this is what sport teaches us. It is okay to take a risk and to fail, or to rephrase this, in order to win you have to be prepared to lose. Consider the thought that obstacles don’t have to stop you, if you encounter a wall think about how to climb it, go through it or walk around it. Is it this attitude and way of thinking that bring us to the following findings; that female executives say participation in sport helps accelerate leadership and career potential and that 74% of employers say that a background in sport will assist in the professional careers of women? A more recent study showed that 96% of the highest ranking female executives played sports and 55% of them at university level or higher. There is even a direct link between playing sports in high school and earning a bigger salary as an adult. In addition to this, recent research has shown that for every 15 minutes of regular exercise that young people take part in, their academic performance increases by a quarter of a grade. It was even possible that children who carried out 60 minutes of exercise every day could improve their academic performance by a full grade.

So why do we take part in sport. is it to do better in exams? Is it for the ‘love of the game?’ Is it because our parents did? All of these reasons could be yes, but in the whole world of sport and life remember the following;

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” –Vince Lombardi

“The glory of sport comes from dedication, determination and desire. Achieving success and personal glory in athletics has less to do with wins and losses than it does with learning how to prepare yourself so that at the end of the day, whether on the track or in the office, you know that there was nothing more you could have done to reach your ultimate goal.” – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Mrs Jo Hackett, Director of Sport