Imperative To Make Academics And Sports Go Hand In Hand

Today, the schools and the society on a whole have started to appreciate the importance of a 360-degree development.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, the age-old proverb has a reverberating impact. It shows us the mirror; this is what will happen to our younger generation if timely intervention is not affected. 

Education as a process has been confused with academics only whereas in reality it is a medium that helps in the holistic development of the students. The ‘Gurukul’ system of education that was prevalent in ancient India was a true embodiment of academics, sports, and essential skills. India's National Sports Policy had in 1984 recommended making sports and physical education an integral part of the school curriculum. 

Extracurricular and sports activities organised in schools play an important role in a child's exposure to academic and social experiences. Playing sports inculcates various traits in students like self –confidence, compassion, discipline, perseverance, and teamwork which not only helps them in finding their passion in sports only but also helps them excel in academics as well. Sports not only enhance concentration power but make the child more agile, smart and acquaint them with many scientific theories in practical. For example, physical skills like blocking, running, passing, tackling, kicking in football demonstrate numerous fundamental concepts of physics, biomechanics, and mathematics. The same can be said for other sports as well. 

A study conducted by the University of British Columbia in Canada shows that students who learn to play a musical instrument in elementary and continue playing in high school perform better in studies as well. As per the report, students who have instrumental music course as part of their standard curriculum stands out in academics as compared to their non-music peers. Research also suggests that the impact of skills learned in instrumental music is more pronounced rather than vocal music.

Value learning, life skills, caring, and sharing is some of the unarticulated characteristics developed through sports in a person. Today, the schools and the society on a whole have started to appreciate the importance of a 360-degree development. The renewed emphasis on physical education, yoga and sports show that steps are being taken in the right direction. A holistic curriculum blending sports and education can help children observe sports as a career as well. The environment at schools is extremely effective in promoting the collaborative and harmonious development of students. Schools can and must ignite passion and provide a much-needed fillip to students for pursuing sports alongside the academic curriculum.

The success of young sports icons like Neeraj Chopra, the Indian track and field athlete competing at International games, Manu Bhaker, the Indian sport shooter bringing laurels to the country as she is the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup 2018 and Prithvi Shaw, Indian cricketer and former under-19 cricket team captain is an inspiration for the coming generation. The dedication and hard work of these youth icons asserts that education is not only the sole way to exceed in life, sometimes passion in sports and other curricular activities also open the door of success in life. These are the testimony of the fact that kids are equally performing well, in fact, in some cases better through their choice of sport. 

According to a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in 2017, around 60% of the participants agreed that in India more emphasis is given on academics than on sports. The report suggests that the education fraternity should be involved in promoting sports in India. While advocating about the need to expose students to sports it says that other than building the physical stamina sports education imbibes qualities such as determination, discipline and obedience.   

Furthermore, a national study conducted in 2014 showed an affirmative association between participation in school sports and lesser inclination towards tobacco, drug, and alcohol use. These students are more likely to dissociate from their peers’ substance abuse. A symbiotic mix of academics and sports ensures the growth of children in terms of life-skills. Parents and school authorities are now encouraging children to take up sports. It has dawned upon them that through trust, shared responsibilities and need for a cohesive effort the youngsters are drawn towards the achievement of a common goal. Thus there is a spurt in the number of sports activities.

Many research studies have come to the conclusion that children getting equal exposure to sports and academics turn into better focused and disciplined with higher punctuality values.  As per the report of University of Kansas, the interscholastic athletic activities help students focus on academics. Stephen Baddley, Director of sport at the University of Bath asserted that 25 student competitors in the 2014 Commonwealth Games says that sports can help students be more focused and efficient.

The government’s push towards sports is another thing to cheer about. ‘Khelo India’, the flagship programme for encouraging sports education in India has been received very positively by society. Programmes like these not only help in creating awareness but also in changing the mindset of the people. Parents nowadays are bold enough to let their child practice sports. This certainly marks a shift in attitude which was not seen earlier. 

The role of the developmental sector in ushering a sports-friendly environment cannot be negated. Many CSR foundations in association with Non-Government Organisation (NGO) have been helping schools to understand the need to promote sports and include it in the curriculum. This push has had a favourable impact in remote areas. Also, some of these foundations help schools with building a sports infrastructure while others help them through assistance in training and development. They identify students with the potential to excel in sports and nurture them through various means to hone their talent.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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