Persistence and perseverance is everything in a sport, whether played in a team or by oneself, the overall goal of getting prestige makes playing sports bearable. To win is huge to a sports team, because of it bringing all the glory and happiness of excelling at something. After having a concrete and rigorous schedule of practice, it would after all make sense that at the end one ought to be rewarded by their efforts. The opposite of having prestige is not having it though, and where unfortunately in the competitive arena of sports it would happen that players and teams wouldn’t win matches all the time. Participating in sports not only builds confidence and a sense of pride at excelling at something, it also improves the skills of teamwork and getting along with others.
We are standing on the shoulders of previous generations, according to established NBA and NFL sportscaster Pam Oliver who broke barriers as both a female reporter and with being African American. She wouldn’t just be a token to getting hired though, as workplaces were feeling the necessity in diversifying their workforce and to thereby kill two birds with one stone with hiring a woman and a minority, but to instead learn and excel at the craft of reporting and to be good at her job. (Molly). Title IX passing in 1972 meant that there would now be an equal playing field, where according to Title IX’s pioneer Margaret Dunkle women were also kept out of medical school, law school, and most undergraduate programs. Women could now also be competitive and learn to win and lose with energy and grace. (Game Changers) AnnMaria De Mars would become an example of a female athlete as she would be the first American to win the 1984 World Judo Championships.
Professional sports is for sure competitive, where it seems that the life skill of winning and losing has been skewed. At whatever cost to self or for the team, players are winning but in unethical ways, where it wouldn’t be uncommon for players to suffer from substance abuse and physical injury from getting that prestige. Professional athletes like Jason Peter recounts how he was at the top with the help of pain medication in his memoir Hero Of The Underground.
“When I had enough of those pills inside of me, the house didn’t seem as lonely. Not only did the pain in my back, my neck, and my shoulders recede enough that I could function again, the chattering in my head would cease. The homesickness was forgotten. The crippling loneliness and isolated nature of my life in Charlotte stopped bothering me. When I was on the phone with my mother and father I could tell them that everything was just great, and for a moment I could believe it myself, while the painkillers carried me through the day on a cushion of angel farts. When I had enough pills inside me, maybe a glass of wine or a few beers, I felt immortal again, I felt like the Jason Peter who had made a pact with his best friend, Grant Wistrom, to win the championship and had succeeded.” (Hero)
Professional sportsmanship is also a tough business according to Peter where it’s a lot easier to weed out players from bad press or faulty contracts, it being a sharp contrast to participating in sports for fun. College Basketball Coach Harry Sheehy though recognizes the value of his team members, so that everyone moves as one under his leadership “where the view is so much better at the top” (Raising) His book Raising a Team Player is a wonderful guide for either the seasoned or the would be athlete, and as a former athlete himself he recognizes that sports build the values of showmanship, character, and teamwork.
“A game is a test of how well the team has prepared in practice. However, at the end of the “test”, if the number on your side of the scoreboard turns out to be less than the number on the opponent’s side, that doesn’t mean that the team failed the exam. The “test” evaluates more than the final score. It has to, because sooner or later you are going to come up against a team that is simply better than you are. When that’s the case, if we continue to insist that the only way to pass the “test” is to win, then we’re doomed to failure.” (Raising)
Keiko Fukuda’s grandfather as a revered jujitsu master and former samurai taught the now father of Judo Kano Jigoru, who would then ask Keiko Fukuda to spread this martial arts form to the United States between the 1950s and 1960s as she was already practicing in Kano’s school known as the Kodokan. A woman who also broke cultural barriers as a female practitioner, Fukuda’s legacy would live through her San Francisco based Judo training school.
Internalizing Jason Peter, Coach Sheehy, and the Game Changers anthology from my own experiences of a karateka for over a decade, I see that participating in sports adds a great sense of value to one’s sense of character. Successfully interacting with others is just as important as having a personal drive to winning, and that these skills carry through in all areas of our interactions.
Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History, Molly Schiot October 2006
Hero Of The Underground, Jason Peter and Tony O’Neill July 2008
Raising a Team Player, Harry Sheehy and Danny Peary April 2002
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