What’s In a Sport

This piece is inspired by a birthday party I went to by Mr David Amoo-Osae, CEO of Movie House Theatres. In his birthday speech, he made mention of having to play squash, with a couple of older men and he’s learnt a lot from them. He went further to outline some of the lessons he’s learnt both from the sport of squash and also from interactions with his fellow sportsmen usually older men. The benefits he outlined inspired me to delve deeper into what is really in a sport apart from the obvious exercise to keep one healthy.


Being an avid and if I may say so, an accomplished sportsman myself, I can understand where Mr Amoo-Osae is coming from when he said that sports gave him a sense of mental well-being and helped him relax after a hard day at work in his executive positions and through the numerous decisions he has to make in a day.


When he is confused about one thing or the other, he always could turn it to his sports colleagues who are older men and much more accomplished than him in every field for advice that never failed. This is amidst the guffaws of teasing and joking that comes after working up a sweat on the squash court.


Mind you, sports affects him in every aspect of his life be it corporate, family or otherwise as it does most people who take sports seriously.


But hey, let’s delve deeper into what sports does for individual into more details. For this I asked a few of my friends to contribute to the discussion.


Mrs Eliz Sena, now residing in Canada has been a basketball enthusiast and player all her life and she played on the university team during her days at Legon. She had this to say;


“Basketball thought me a lot about teamwork, no matter how good a player is, he or she needs the team to win.”


In this statement, she reiterates the importance of team work in a sport as in life. Various outdoor sports such as soccer, volleyball, basketball are all team sports. Even some that can be considered individual sports like athletics, boxing, badminton and tennis can still be team sports because you need team mates to play against or spar with to get to perfection.

This sense of team building means that one listens to ideas from other people and takes them into consideration before making a major decision in one’s life – it doesn’t matter what aspect of life. As Liz points out, no matter how good or smart a person is, he or she is not all-knowing and it’s always prudent to listen to different perspectives of a situation. As our African elders wisely said ‘knowledge is like a baobab tree and no one person can put his arms around it’ to which John Donne wrote ‘no man is an island unto himself’ (http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/no-man-is-an-island)


Team spirit is therefore an integral ingredient in a successful portion of life.



Another good friend of mine, who has taken de sport of basketball to new heights in Ghana having set up ReboundGh (www.reboundgh.blogspot.com) and an avid blogger also had provided this insight into sports.

Theophilus Ofoli Kwei Mensah writes:


What’s in a sport?

I believe that a sport on its own doesn’t do much for a lot of the people who participate in it. We can’t deny there are a good number of both amateur and pro athletes who have horrible life skills and behaviors; the very things sports is claimed to build in a man. Just look at the outbursts of anger and sometimes insults that ensue as a result of a bad call on our basketball courts. The Lance Armstrong story (http://www.guardian.co.ukSportLance Armstrong) deserves a mention here just to highlight that sports has its negatives too.

But sports sheds a lot of good light into our lives too if we avail ourselves. The positivities of sports can only be enjoyed when the coaches make a conscious effort to highlight the lessons that need to be learned by players from the very first day they step on a sports field. Life lessons like hard work, staying positive at all times, preparation, mental toughness, discipline, love, commitment, teachability /learnability, courage and respect for others are some of the greatest lessons sports can imbibe into even the worst of men. These are lessons that can’t be taught in any classroom or by just reading some book. One has to experience certain situations to be able to acquire them and sports is just one of the few activities in the world that can provide such platforms…

LeBron James’ AAU coach Dru Joyce Snr. said at the beginning of their documentary ”More Than A Game” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMwmnAu697Q)


”Basketball is a vehicle to get you from point A to point B; use basketball, don’t let it use you”

Then check this Mike Tyson video out, an example of someone who I think didn’t learn most lessons the sport he was so good in taught him at his peak but is a noticeably changed man now  after his lessons has seeped into him.  http://vimeo.com/­47871992
1-2-1 w/jeffstaple feat. Mike Tyson (Ep 1)


Need I say more? It is pretty obvious that an individual determines what and how the sports he participates in affects him at whatever level and in whatever aspect of his life.



But hey, sometimes what do our parents think about it and us when we devote our time to sports instead of our books. Admittedly, sometimes it is scary even to ourselves that we devote more time to sports than to our books but then isn’t it said that life is the biggest classroom ever and experience is the best teacher. But still I had to ask Coach Feranmi, Founder and CEO of the DC Dynamics and Coach of the Central Courts what he thought about sports and this is what he had to say.

I’ve always found the traditional belief that sports is a mostly positive a bit shallow. If you really think about it, you’ll realize it’s not that simple. I came across a write up a while back which explained this quite well.

“Discussions of character in sports hinge on two sometimes competing beliefs. One holds that sports build character, the other that sports reveal it.
The case can be made that both ideas are valid. Character is regularly revealed in the way that players, coaches, parents and leaders of youth sports organizations (YSOs) conduct themselves on and off the field.

The “Sports Builds Character” belief is a trickier proposition. Who is to question that sports provides a wonderful setting for the development of poise, confidence, determination, resilience, self-sacrifice, courage. etc? The list goes on, and it is not a coincidence that a strong involvement in sports was the common feature of those who tried to take back the plane on 9/11. Yet every Positive Life Skill associated with sports has a counterpart that can be learned equally well, and often more easily.


If you can learn fair play and sportsmanship, you can also learn to cheat. If you can learn about commitment, you can also learn to quit on yourself and your teammates. Accountability and accepting responsibility: making excuses. Again, the list goes on.

Many of the adults involved in sports simply assume, based on their own experience that the positive side of these character traits will emerge. In fact, without a concerted effort to use sports to teach positive Life Lessons, you might as well be flipping a coin.

That being said I must say that the playground is the most practical classroom in the world. Often times the playing ground is where young children, learn how hard work really feels. It is where they learn to cope with adversity and I think that thought is best summed up by this letter a mother posted on a website.

“Dear Other Parents At The Park:

Please do not lift my daughters to the top of the ladder, especially after you’ve just heard me tell them I wasn’t going to do it for them and encourage them to try it themselves.

I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up. I am sitting here because I didn’t bring them to the park so they could learn how to manipulate others into doing the hard work for them. I brought them here so they could learn to do it themselves.

They’re not here to be at the top of the ladder; they are here to learn to climb. If they can’t do it on their own, they will survive the disappointment. What’s more, they will have a goal and the incentive to work to achieve it. It is not my job — and it is certainly not yours — to prevent my children from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.”

I believe that the sports field/ground is a great model of life and just like life, we’ve got the good, the bad and the ugly. So for me there’s a lot in a sport. There is a lot of crap, that no one should be involved in but also a great experience that everyone should have.


This multi-faceted opinion not only cuts across from how the some parents feel about their children learning through sports on the playground but also shares the sentiments of most people in sports about the lessons and evils that come with doing or playing a sport.


But one thing boggles my mind always. If sports is this good and has this many lessons, why do some people stay away from sport. These people at first I was believed to think were eccentric but Michael, a relatively quiet graduate of University of Ghana and now into corporate administration, had this to say about his non-participation in sport.


Well, I don’t really play any sport, but the watching of it keeps me relaxed and de-stressed. Sports calms my nerves especially soccer. It brings out the best of my emotions, gets me so passionate and literally kicking my legs as I watch.


Even though I am only an observer, the game gets me so involved that I feel like the striker/defender/goalkeeper/midfielder whenever my team is tasked to deliver. I’m the world’s greatest when my team wins, walking confidently in my team colors, shouting and chanting victory songs, making all the noise in the world, even at times undressing…


Yeah! that’s how bad it gets and when I lose, I just fold myself in bed covered by the heaviest of blankets but yet still cold. I forfeit food and if possible put off my phone just to avoid hearing and reading of victory comments from opponents.


Sports makes me feel most patriotic.       (http://www.ghana.gov.gh/index.php/news/sports/afcon-2013)




And this from a guy who has never done any sport in his life. His level of participation is just as an observer and I believe there are many like him.


The debate also exists what is a sport (http://teenink.com/nonfiction/sports/article/443221/Whats-a-Sport/)

but that is not for me to discuss here. Whatever you find yourself doing as sport, just make sure that its lessons are learnt. There is no way I could have enumerated all the lessons I have learnt from sports in such an article but each individual has their own lessons.


One Response to “What’s In a Sport”

  1. One doesn’t have to play to be affected.

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