Sport. Something which many people don’t place a lot of importance on, but in reality is one of the most valuable things in life. Whether you are merely a spectator or full on athlete there are several reasons why sport should be valued. As well as bringing people together in a social context from all walks of life the health benefits to be derived from it are second to none. This is not limited to physical health. I know from my own experience that being active has an enormous part to play in mental health.
What I’m saying is not new. Everyone knows that exercise is beneficial to our well-being but how many of us actually follow through on this idea? By rights, we should all be doing some form of exercise for at least half an hour three times a week, if not more. This can vary from mild forms of activity such as
swimming, walking, dancing and jogging to more vigorous sports like football, hurling, basketball, tag rugby…you get the idea! I, myself, play tennis at least twice a week, do zumba twice a week, go running once a week (though lately this has been a bit more sporadic), and walk everywhere. I have also taken up kettlebells so to say I am fairly active is a bit of an understatement!
I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate on the benefits on all this activity. The running keeps me fit (when I go), the tennis gets my heart rate going and also helps my hand-eye coordination. I also generally feel happier and healthier and sleep better at night when I have taken some form of exercise during the day. On the naughtier side of it I also feel entitled to eat that left-over slice of chocolate cake after a good workout! Anyone who goes to the gym on a regular basis will know that feeling of satisfaction I am talking about!
It is not only the health and fitness aspect which drives people to participate in sport. There is huge enjoyment to be derived from it. Ask any sporting personality why they are involved in a particular sport and chances are they’ll answer, “Because I enjoy it”. This can be particularly true of team sports, such as football and hurling. The banter between team mates can’t be beaten and training sessions are a great way to bond with people of like interests. Let’s also not forget the routine locker room slogging that goes on back stage. Think back to that famous All Ireland Football Final between Dublin and Kerry in 2011. Imagine the adrenaline pumping through the veins of those men as they fought for the Sam Maguire and the glory of their counties in Croke Park! Months of training and hard work led up to the moment when the Dubs raised the cup over their heads in triumph. Surely there’s nothing to compare with sharing a moment like that with your friends and team mates!
On the other side of the coin, said sporting legends would have very little to play for without their loyal fans. Some people would argue that being a spectator is one of the most exciting aspects of being involved in sport. I am not a soccer fan myself but I know plenty of people who are and I have to admit the frenzy is catching. I would actually watch a Man United football match with my boyfriend because he has a vested interested in the game and I now find myself caring about how far up the league table they are. However, my own enthusiasm lies in hurling rather than soccer. Hailing from the ‘Banner’ county, I’m always on tenderhooks whenever I watch a Clare match. Admittedly, it has been many years since Clare have come close to an All Ireland Final but hope springs eternal! There is genuinely nothing more exhilarating than being in the stands of Croke Park, cheering on your county and swapping banter with the supporters of the rival team around you. The atmosphere is electric! I look forward to the day when I come back and wave the banner for Clare again!
Let’s not ignore the social aspect of sport and being a team player. In most team sports there are always people coming and going with old team members being replaced by incoming members. Very often the best friendships are formed through team training sessions. This alone adds to your social life. On top of that, most sports club have social nights and parties for special occasions such as Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. The highlights of a lot of sporting competitions are the social activities organised to bring people together such as table quizzes and dances.
The scope is endless when it comes to sport. You don’t need to play it to enjoy it and it shouldn’t have to feel like a chore when you do take part in it. The days of compulsory P.E. classes are gone and most of us now have the luxury of indulging in sport which actually interests us. So value it.