VOICE FROM THE SOUTH
By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ
Sports are excellent in teaching how to win and how to lose and how to muster maximum effort towards a goal. Sports are an excellent teacher and should be encouraged for our children. When we win we are not sure we will always win in future even though we have all the strength and skills above our competitions. Winning is like a round coin where we are on top one moment and at the bottom at the next but it is still the same coin. It also teaches much about losing. When we lose we remind ourselves that there is another day when we can win. And the third lesson is just as important – that it encourages us to put maximum effort towards a goal. It encourages us to use whatever technology and effort is available. We have to practice, practice, practice, if we want to win. And these are excellent lessons for real life.
The recent World Cup was also an excellent exercise in friendly rivalry. At the same time it provided a great venue for the exercise of friendly nationalism. I have always wondered why football is the world’s most popular sport. It has a great way of audience participation. I have not seen another sport in which the audience jump and shout as much as in football (soccer). In the World Cup, it was glorious to win as well as glorious to lose. It was almost as great to lose as to win. France with its more seasoned our scored Croatia but the Croatians did honor to their country just as well. Football is a game that needs a lot of control. But then it also needs a lot of luck. The skills of the players as swell as their prowess are not enough for a goal. It also needs a lot of luck so that one team, however less skilled, can win in soccer. We who are used to the scoring in basketball are often disappointed with the low scoring in football. That is part of the mystique of football. Football requires the individual capability of the players as well as the cooperation and planning of everybody in the team to be able to make a goal.
When I was in high school, our school required us to go through a number of sports, including boxing. I still remember how it hurts to be hit in the nose by the glove. Then there was swimming and baseball (really soft ball). Where we really learned a lot was in football. We enjoyed just running after the ball but the coach taught us how important it was to stop the ball first before kicking it in the direction we wanted. Ninety five percent of the game in soccer is possession of the ball. Once more than one defender approaches a ball handle, it is almost impossible for him to keep possession of the ball without passing it on to a team mate. Then, like in billiards, it is critical where you hit the ball for it to go in the direction you want it to go. There are few people like Moldric in Croatia who can take long shots at the goal.
Boxing is an exception in sports. Normally the sport does not try to injure the opponent. Even judo and fencing try to protect the opponent. In boxing there is a real intent to injure the opponent so some well-thinking people object to boxing as a sport. All the other sports promote sportsmanship which does not seek the injury of the opponent while providing the opportunity to match strength and skill of the protagonists.
I have also wondered at the fascination of this country with basketball. Its convenience comes from the fact that it can be played indoors. We have a long rainy season. Al though we can play football in the mud a few fays, it is not possible to enjoy it day after day over a long period. Basketball gives us the thrill and skill development that we need. It is not as good as football in building stamina. The larger field in football requires more stamina but maybe this is just as good for us since we have not yet developed the level of stamina needed in football.
In the end the lesson in sports is setting a goal and put all effort in achieving it. This is important in real life.