Sports have been a staple point in the history of humanity. From the Romans’ gladiator fighting in Colosseums to the Ancient Greeks’ chariot racing in Hippodromes. Sports are an activity that is at the heart of every nation.
Sports are a culmination of skill, competitiveness, and mental fortitude. Every sport has its unique aspects, however, what lies at the epicenter of every sport is its competitive nature.
In every Olympic sport, there are winners and losers. In a boxing match, a boxer either wins or loses, in a Basketball match the team either wins or loses the game, in a sprint only one sprinter wins the race.
The aspect of winning and losing is a strong motivator for athletes. No athlete desires to lose, only to win. There is a sense of pride and honor associated with winning in a sport. After Anthony Joshua won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2012, he stated that “Once you’re an Olympian, you’re an Olympian, you can’t take that away”.
Not everyone who plays sports will become an Olympian or reach the pinnacle of their sport. However, the same satisfaction and enjoyment can be replicated. I spoke to Essex blades long-distance runner Drew Johnston. When asked about what he enjoys most about running he told me ‘I enjoy the social side, as we train hard but also have fun’.
Whether you are an Olympian or not the basic qualities of playing sports apply. Hard work and enjoyment. These are two universal characteristics across all sports.
People begin playing sports because they admire something about the sport. As they begin to play and improve at the sport, they begin to understand the tough requirements needed to reach the peak of the sport.
Skill, agility, power, awareness, balance, coordination, speed. The list is endless. Hard work is required to master any sport. No Olympic athlete reached the Olympic level through talent alone, rather they nurtured their skills, continuously progressing themselves until they reached the Olympic level.
Despite the grueling effort put into their craft, there is a sense of enjoyment. The athlete enjoys aggressively training for hours at a sport they love, it’s their passion.
So far, this article has explained the magnificence and grandeur of winning. However, what is unspoken of, is the beauty of losing.
In fact, many athletes have stated that losing has been more beneficial to their careers than winning. When a boxer loses a fight, it is personally humiliating. The time, effort, and dedication sacrificed preparing for the fight, only to fall short of victory.
For that boxer to improve, and eventually become victorious. The boxer must learn, grow, and self-analyze their flaws. The process of bouncing back from a defeat is a principle across all sports. This is where the mental fortitude of an athlete is tested, where their true character is shown.
NBA superstar Michael Jordan famously quoted:
“I’ve failed over and over and over in my life, and that is why I succeed.”
This quote cements the beauty of failure. The lessons learned are invaluable.
I spoke to Essex Blades 200m sprinter Sheyi, who finished last place during his first heat of the indoor Luca championships last year November. When interviewing Sheyi, I questioned him on his mentality going forward after the loss, telling me that ‘it was a shameful way to leave, I had to bounce back, I had to make the investment spent worth it’.
Sheyi’s mentality encapsulates why losing is awesome. Despite Sheyi’s loss, he’s hungrier, driven, and determined to succeed in sprinting again.
Similarly, Essex blades and Colchester & Tendring 400m and 800m sprinter Dylan Nyathi stated that after losing a race he tells himself that ‘if they can do it, I can too’.
This quote summarises how losing should be seen as a lesson, that through analysing and critiquing oneself one can improve their weaknesses and grow as an athlete.
Sports are a fusion of joy and heartache. This article encompasses the reasons why these fascinating competitions have existed for millenniums, and why they will continue to do so, for many years to come.