It is fair to say that there are more pressing issues in the world today then who can throw or kick a ball around a park more successfully for a couple of hours. However, that is to underestimate the importance that sport plays in the lives of millions right around the world. This crosses cultural, demographic and wealth lines.
Playing sport is exercise. Professional sport employs a veritable army of people aside the players. The supporters get enjoyment and camaraderie.
To succeed in sport requires determination and perseverance. Above all it requires an ability to accept setbacks and disappointment as part of the journey. In turn, it is about using the set back as a basis to move forward rather than as an excuse to wallow in victimhood and blame some aspect of your identity for it.
Sporting success is shared and enjoyed by many as is the “pain” of losing.
This year Adelaide and Richmond, played off. Both sides have a story. Richmond have not won a premiership in 37 years and have caused their supporters a fair degree of disappointment over the years. Yet their fan base is bigger than ever.
The Adelaide team have seen the death of their assistant coach in 2014 and the murder of their head coach in 2015. In a promotional video the team notes that getting knocked down does not matter in life. What matters is getting up again. The video talks about the building of resilience.
Chris Kenny writing in The Weekend Australian noted that every player and indeed everyone involved has a story. He also wrote about what it takes to succeed in sport (and this applies to any form). “The gift of exemplary DNA does not make a champion — the most talented player on the team is first on the ground for skills sessions, the fittest player is the one who runs the extra hills and the player who surpasses expectations is the one who eats, sleeps and works to a plan.
He adds “This is why winners don’t gloat and losers don’t whinge. They are there for the glory and love of the game. They can share the pursuit but not the prize”.
For those who don’t follow AFL, Richmond won by a comfortable margin.
The team and supporters will celebrate long and hard. The losers will regroup and come back next year determined to do better. They will not seek to blame any and everyone for their loss. They will accept it as part of the game.
This attitude is in stark contrast to the “victimhood” mentality so pervasive in society. The book “The Therapeutic State” by James Nolan Jnr describes the intrusion of the state into every slight (real or perceived) people feel with the associated need for “somebody to do something”. The idea that people might be capable of coping is almost anathema.
Today those who do not get promoted or earn as much as somebody else are encouraged to blame it on some aspect of their identity. The victim industry encourages people to reject the notion that maybe somebody else did or does better than them. Or even that maybe next time if they put in more effort they will do better. Or heaven forbid, that sometimes despite our best efforts we don’t get the result we want.
Toxic identity politics with its core of grievance robs individuals of their resilience. It teaches that they are powerless about their situation. It fosters dependence on a profitable victim industry. As Nolan notes, much of this is funded and controlled by the state.
There is another way. And that is dealing with (including getting help) with what is in front of us and seeking to improve ourselves.
Sporting success show that by viewing setbacks as part of the journey we can overcome. This resilience is part of why admire our sporting heroes.
Dr Joe Kosterich MBBS is an author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, who wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life. Dr Joe also gives practical, motivational health talks for the general public and organisations where he is known as “An independent doctor who talks about health”. His latest book “60 minutes to Better Health” is available on Amazon.