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The beautiful and challenging inconsistencies of sport

PNG Hunters in trainingPHILIP KAI MORRE

WHEN the first Olympic Games were held in Athens, the motto adopted was ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’, which means faster, higher and stronger.

The Olympic creed was not to win but to take part, not to have conquered but to have fought well.

All participating athletes swear the Olympic oath in which they promise to respect and follow the rules of good sportsmanship.

The Olympic flame symbolises the continuity between the ancient and modern games, for the torch is lit by the sun’s rays in Olympia, Greece, and carried by relay runners to the host site. It is an ancient tradition that is kept alive in all countries including Papua New Guinea.

Today, sport is seen as an ethical, valuable and entertaining social institution that benefits individuals, families, society and the nation. Sports are a source of insight, noble ideas and creativity. Sports is also an important social institution where people interrelate, connect and interact and it is seen to play an important role in moral and  character development.

All of us want to win but sport goes beyond that limitation and changes our perception of what it means to win and lose. Sport facilitates a more mature relationship to such things.

It can be an ethical pursuit that guides and motivates individuals to make good decisions and work towards the common interest that benefits all. People with problems release their frustration and anger through sport.

In order to achieve something good, we often have to suffer the opposite. Some of the negative influences we experience in sport include that it can create divisions and that less influential people may be denied an ability to take part.

Violence in sports is like a disease, especially violence in team games like soccer, rugby, basketball and baseball. Some people always want to win and, if they lose, they can become violent. Players and fans who bring with them predispositions to antisocial behaviour are a blight on the game. They are prone to provoke violence and attack.

Violence in individual sports like athletics is not much an issue but there are other problems like drugs taken to produce extra energy, strength or speed.

Money is a dominant factor in much sport and may cause some people to manipulate sport for personal commercial benefit. The power of money may be used to control sport. A local example was the naming of Simbu TNA Lions in the inter-city rugby league cup. There were no objections to the sponsorship but I thought it deprived the Simbu people of pride and satisfaction.

SP Brewery and other businesses spend millions of kina on sport rather than on other social programs.

Sports is now something of provincial and national pride and individual politicians promote themselves by supporting particular sports teams and players.  Individual politicians gain popularity by supporting prominent sports men and women.

Sports development is initiated in schools and institutions at large. In some schools and colleges more attention is given to sports than other events. Sports are associated with the pride of the school and sometimes, when they lose, morale plummets.

Through sport we can acquire new experiences, solidarity, enjoyment and relationships that go beyond the boundary of sport. People can change their bad attitudes and become new people of moral character and with leadership qualities.

Such are the beautiful and challenging inconsistencies of sport.

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