So much of our ability to do more seems to me to stem from the influence of those around us — our communities… be that family, friends, workplace, local community, broader networks, church, political party, country, online, charities, etc..
Today’s world is often seen to resolve more and more around individuals, but none of us truly strive without the influence of those around us. It has to be the creation of positive, peaceful communities with open arms on inclusion that the world will become a better place.
Sport to me always creates a positive community even if for the shortest time in cases. Running a marathon (or something a little more manageable!) creates a community of people focused on achieving something amazing for a few hours. It doesn’t matter if you win the race as long as you perform to the standard you want to, or even just finish! What does matter is that for a short few hours (using the London Marathon as an example) 35,000 people are focused on the same goal, with their own 2 feet, with millions of supporters, and in this case raising money and profiles of hundreds of charities.
The positive energy, created through serious effort, during a race like this is palatable and with the wonders of internet and television that energy passes along to more and more people.
A running race is one example where many of us can participate but as individuals. Team sports are another week by week activity that millions of us are lucky enough to do. A community develops around a Saturday game beyond the players. Take my old hockey club… our week involved a training session with all the other teams on Wednesday nights… and a few drinks afterwards! Then Saturday morning came and the team of 15 (11+4subs) meets on a cold Astroturf pitch at 9:30am. A short warm up… the opposition team have just arrived having driven an hour to our ground… we say hello and then it’s into the business of the game and everyone’s focus turns to performing as well as they can and to win the game. Win or lose the teams shake hands at the end and head to our club bar to reflect on the game and get to know a few new people and sharing the stories of the week with team players.
And that’s just the start of it… then a meal is shared… sandwiches again… then the other club teams start to arrive and before you know it there’s 100 people enjoying a positive day all built around a few games of hockey.
Perhaps the Tour de France and the Olympics are events many of us can only dream of riding or racing in. However, if you’ve ever been lucky enough to visits these events you’ll be buzzing for the rest of your life. The effort put into these events is huge and goes way beyond the athletes that compete; we can each Do More to make sure events like these happen.
Take the Olympics as an example. A whole community of people is built in a different city and country every 2years to organise and then run the winter and Summer Olympics. I was lucky enough to attend the Athens and London Olympics… and yes there were some rough edges but that overriding sense of a global community built around a positive thing… sports… was amazing. I will always remember a city full of normal people carrying their country’s flag without malice to each other but with faces of awe built around how amazing it is to see the world communities together at peace. Yes there is excellence and that drives excesses but overriding all of this is a sense that if we all put our mind to it and choose to live to the Olympic ideals, rather than criticise others for their lack of doing so, the world can be a better place. The Olympics is but a framework for a proportion of the world to spend some time together on a positive thing. In the end sport is not life or death it’s far more important than that! Because it helps us have a framework for community and development that is peaceful.
It takes work to live up to ideals. In Built to Last, Porras and Collins, say:
that crossing the boundary of company values is when a company proves those values.
Dealing with drug cheats is one place a sport deals with living up to ideals. But that’s more high profile. Each of us can do more to ensure the ideals of fair play and development of a community stay real in each of the sports we do.
So I believe you can do more through doing more sport and doing more to live up to the ideals of the sports you play or support. But you can go even further and support organisations like Right to Play, which is founded on an Olympic ideal and works around the world using a child right to play as a basis for making sure children have the opportunity for play and that they have coaches they can learn from. This charity has such a positive way to interact with some of the poorest communities in the world… doing things like using their red footballs to play soccer… of course… but also to play a game to bring HIV Aids education… they ask the children to play a short game of soccer and then they’ll stop for a game of pass the ball behind your back… the coach shouts stop and then asks the children… where’s the ball. They don’t all know of course… they can’t see it… even the child holding the ball may be confused in the excitement… you get the picture… A very serious message delivered in a very powerful, visual way, but in a fun environment, shared with others. Very very powerful.
So do more sport… but think about doing even more through sport.
Originally published at www.practicalacts.org.