As chairman of the Senate Youth and Sports Committee in the late ’80s and early ’90s when I was the nation’s youngest senator then, I often encountered people posing the question: Is sports a luxury or a necessity?
People with divergent views on the value of sports were more amenable to the idea that scarce resources ought to be used only for the most basic of the so-called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – the physiological or biological requirements for human survival which include air, food, water, shelter, clothing, and sleep, as well as safety and security.
There’s no dispute that man’s most basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy theorized by Abraham Maslow, considered to be among the top ten psychologists of the 20th century, are indeed essential to life and survival. But extensive research and countless committee hearings of the Senate body I headed also point out the importance of sport activities to one’s physical and psychological well-being.
In fact, the absence of sports or lack of physical activity can result in serious consequences to one’s health. Around 2 million deaths per year are attributed to physical inactivity, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) as it warned that “a sedentary lifestyle could very well be among the 10 leading causes of death and disability” throughout the world.
“Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and increase the risks of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, lipid disorders, depression and anxiety,” a WHO statement revealed in 2002.
Thus, there’s no doubt about the importance of sport and physical activity. So important indeed that the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) stressed in Article 1 of its 1978 Charter: “The practice of physical education and sport is a fundamental right for all.”
The UNESCO International Charter of Physical Education and Sport, adopted by the General Conference at its 20th session in Paris on Nov. 21, 1978, also said, “It is clearly evident that physical education and sport are not confined to physical well-being and health but also contribute to the full and well-balanced development of the human being.”
That sport activities contribute to an individual’s “full and well-balanced development” is affirmed by two of the Philippines’ greatest sports legends – Asia’s sprint queen Lydia de Vega and champion bowler Bong Coo – with whom I chatted with last Sunday in my DZMM teleradyo program, “Sagot Ko ‘Yan.”
Engaging in sports develops character, self-confidence, discipline, respect for rules, sense of accomplishment, willingness to go through sacrifices, and it even helps fight depression, according to Bong.
For Lydia, sports has enabled her to develop a sense of determination to succeed, to double her efforts amid setbacks, to give her all, and not be intimidated by the strength of her rivals. “I have to give my 100 percent,” she said. “Win or lose, it doesn’t matter.”
It was a nice and inspiring chat I had with the two sports legends as we reminisced those unforgettable times in 1991 when I was deeply involved in extensive preparations for various sport events as our country was also the host then of the Southeast Asian Games.
We recalled how our program, Create a Sports Hero, had mobilized immense private sector involvement to further ensure not only the success of our country’s hosting of the SEA Games then, but also the success of our athletes. I remember how we encouraged students to write inspirational letters to our athletes and assure them of our whole-hearted support and fervent prayers.
That sense of national pride and unity we experienced that time is no different from what is happening at present, as shown by the cheers of Filipinos during the impressive opening ceremony for the 30th SEA Games last Saturday at the Philippine Arena. A strong start by Team PH (as of this writing, our country has bagged 23 gold medals in eight events) reinforces the possibility we could surpass our success in 2005 when we emerged overall champions. Let’s all hope and pray for the best!