Laurie Foster | Sports and academics should coexist
The conversation regarding sports and its relevance to or during the academic experience once more surfaced in the past week. It was being argued in certain quarters that the influence of athletic exploits was dwarfing what some accept as the main reason for attending institutions of learning, which is deemed to be to further education.
Let it be agreed that when the agenda is 'to educate', it should not be confined to any specific area. It should be a way of providing the individual with the tools required to be successful in the wider world. That is impatient of debate as to do anything less, places the recipient of learning in an unhealthy situation where coping with realities further down the road, becomes a real challenge.
On account of this, Foster's Fairplay is at variance with the theme 'Academics versus Sports'. That would seem to suggest that a contest is on to determine which side wins, with the other being the loser. Anything done or said to advance or even promote that thinking, could well be seen as unfortunate. Neither should be in conflict with the other. If the student is not to be short-changed, both should be pursued with equal vigour and conviction.
Many of the views expressed at a recent town hall discussion on that and surrounding topics, supported one side or the other. One participant saw and mentioned the conflict and should be commended for his foresight. We need to reach and maintain a position where there is accommodation for both aspects of learning. These are not the days when sports is mere recreation. Plus, it cannot be mentioned without account being given as to the offshoots therefrom. More and more, these are in urgent demand. It is of no value to have sports persons who rise to the professional level, not to be annexed by suitably trained and qualified individuals. The latter is required to address the business and health concerns, both quite substantial, which form part and parcel of sports at the revenue-earning level.
SEARCHING FOR SOLUTIONS
In these days when there is this most welcomed emphasis on wellness, even scientists and other captains of industry are searching for solutions to their concerns in that area. To satisfy that need, and in the absence of the adequately trained, where would we find the therapists to make that possible?
The arguments here are intended to support a balance of thinking and effort when a decision is to be made on this matter. No one should try to argue that the world does not need highly accomplished academics. They have always been a necessity and have carved their own important niche in the society. That said, they should not be detached entities, trying to operate independently of others, in this case the sports graduates, who also have significant roles to play in making a difference.
Let us, then, permanently discard the notion that sports and academics should not coexist. It is essential that they complement each other and be allowed to grow, blossom and flourish in the same space.