Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Athletic Nation

Here's proof that sports can be more than just a game. As many of you know, Sri Lanka has had intense civil war for about 30 years. However, according to a report on BBC News, a new era of political stability is coming to this nation. How then do they propose to revitalize this war-torn nation? According to Maxwell de Silva of the Sri Lankan Olympic Association, "A nation has to be healthy to achieve anything and sport is the best path to get there." This may seem like a bold statement to many of you, but I like to propose a few reasons as to why this strategy to nation building might not be quite as radical and outlandish as it sounds.

First, this statement is being made by a representative from the Sri Lankan Olympic Association. There's nothing like worldwide competition to stimulate national pride. Think about events like the Olympics or the World Cup. By evaluating how well you stack up against the rest of the world, a spirit of competition is inspired. As I learned in my Modern European History class, nationalism can bring a country together regardless of their past or the seeming sustainability of their future. Helping build a sense of national pride seems to me like it will help bring the nation together as one cohesive unit.

Also, this article seems to indicate that people in Sri Lanka that sports are already a major part of the culture. It states that most children know how to play sports but do not often have organized teams or leagues to play in. Therefore, they never learn the values of teamwork, fair play, leadership, and other skills that are inherent in organized athletics. While it might not seem like this investment in youth sports would pay dividends immediately, think about another generation of Sri Lankan youth who would be brought through a system that would be inherently beneficial for their character development and would therefore help them develop into the kind of leaders that a redeveloping nation would almost surely require.

I think I have made an investment in sports seem much more reasonable in the process of nation building. I realize that many people will see him that sports are simply entertainment and are not essential to the national development. I would argue in this situation that sports are highly relevant because Sri Lanka, at least from the impression I received from this article, is not in a terrible economic state. They are not starving the poor simply to provide sports for the rich. What this country really needs is people to get behind, people who they can cheer for, people who inspire them to see what unified Sri Lanka can do. See, sports can be more than just fun and games...

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