EYE OF THE TIGER
Are todays sports all about money and winning?
The warm sweat slowly drips from my forehead as the claret ichor pours profusely from my nose. I sharply bite down on my gum-shield like a tiger locked on to a defenceless fawn. Ding-ding. The bell rings and I stand to attention, like an exhausted, ancient warrior on the fields of battle. My enemy stands before me, ready to beat me to a pulp. Defeat? I do not recognise the meaning of the word. I shall be carried out on my shield before I surrender. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the hard may be; for without victory there is no survival.
So is winning that important? Absolutely. I’ve been active for as far back as I remember and spent most of my life in and out of a boxing gym. It was hard, tough and regimented but it taught me discipline, respect and self-control. The problem is these days that there’s too much snowflakery and political correctness. Society wants non-competitive sports and everybody is to be a winner. Not only is the foundation of sports underpinned by competition, but the very fabric of our existence was determined by a single winner. Competition pushes athletes to strive for greatness and to be able to achieve extraordinary human feats - that doesn’t necessarily mean we need an opponent, sometimes the competition lies within ourselves. Failure is a necessity for growth, we all fail at some point in our lives and every failure is a stepping stone to success. When we take away competition and make everyone a winner, it gives people a false sense of entitlement - they believe they can achieve without putting in the work, it makes people mentally and physically weaker.
Although I believe winning and losing is important, sport has to be fun, cheap and accessible to all. We need to encourage as many people as possible to participate in some kind of sport or physical activity. A recent study found that around 60% of the UK population is either overweight or obese. This a national health crisis waiting to happen. People who are overweight are more susceptible to heart disease, cancer, lung disease, diabetes, depression and a whole host of other problems that have the potential to overwhelm our national health system. If regular exercise could be bottled, it would be a miracle drug, basically everything in your life gets better when you find the time to exercise regularly.
But In modern times, it’s becoming ever more expensive to partake in sports. When I was a child, we didn't have much money and were living on the breadline, but boxing was cheap, affordable and gave me the opportunity to get active - it shaped me into who I am today. In contrast, today's sports clubs can cost a small fortune and the most impoverished children are missing out on opportunities that will benefit them mentally and physically throughout the rest of their lives. More funding needs to be provided to make sport free. Sports stars earn a substantial amount of money. For example, Tyson Fury netted a whopping $28 million Dollars in his last bout. If sports stars donated a small percentage of their earnings towards free clubs for kids, then we may see a larger number of children participating in sport which would have long term health benefits for the whole country. While we are on the subject of money, are sports stars paid too much?
We often hear society criticising sports stars for their huge salaries. We hear things like nurses, teachers, police offices and other public service staff should be paid more, and they should. But the fact of the matter is, the majority of people can train for those roles, but how many people can become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world? A handful maybe? Let’s not forget, that's a handful of people from a population of 7.8 billion. For context, it would take just over 31 years for a billion seconds to pass in time! Sometimes we often do not recognise the great sacrifices that athletes have to make to reach peak performance. Most people don't want to walk 100 meters from their car to the supermarket, never mind training three times a day, everyday, while sticking to a regimented diet. If anyone could do it - they would.
To conclude, we all need to try and be a little more active. So get out there, and find “the eye of the tiger”. Lace up your gloves, take wandering outdoor walks. Reconnect with what's real: nature, your soul, your inner child. Live in the sunshine, swim the sea and drink the wild air. Your body is the greatest machine you'll ever own and in thirty years time, you'll look back and recall in a way you can't grasp now, how much possibility lay before you.