Monday, November 9, 2009

Sport for All

Sport: a human right for all individuals

Sport for All is a movement promoting the Olympic ideal that sport is a human right for all individuals regardless of race, social class and sex. The movement encourages sports activities that can be exercised by people of all ages, both sexes and different social and economic conditions.
Just recently, I mentioned Olympism in an email thread with dragon boat friends. The thread was about some umpiring, rowing and dragon boat updates. I said that whatever our role requires us to do in our respective sports we should not forget to promote the spirit of Olympism, always.

Modern Olympism, as defined here, celebrates the ideals which remain at the heart of Olympism. By blending sport with culture and education, Olympism promotes a way of life based on:

* The balanced development of the body, will and mind
* The joy found in effort
* The educational value of being a good role model
* Respect for universal ethics including tolerance, generosity, unity, friendship, non-discrimination and respect for others.

I thought about all of these immediately after I heard about an unfortunate issue involving my dragon boat club team. Quite frankly, the story is not new to me. I heard variations of it already even before, seemingly harmless remarks from competitors. Those kinds of things happen a lot in sports. No big deal.

This latest incident happened during the November 8th race at Manila Bay. A teammate told me that a paddler from another team called one of the Manila Dragon women's team members "gurang" (oldie) inside a CR. My friend told me that another teammate took exception and respectfully called the lady paddler on it. The said teammate explained quiety that most of the women that she was disrespecting were breast cancer survivors. The girl who made the comment apologized. However, as soon as the teammate who called her on it left, the girl shouted "Wala akong pakialam!" (I don't care!). Unfortunately, my friend said another teammate was still in one of the bathroom stalls and heard her - and triggered another exchange.

In another incident, a different team's member commented "Ay matrona!" while Manila Dragons were unloading.

A few thoughts came to mind after I heard the story:
1. Everyone is entitled to her/his own opinion. Ang pikon talo.
2. Sporting events are often rife with intrigues. Competitiveness and team pride knows no bounds.
3. There is always an opportunity to understand the ideals of sports better. Learning and understanding is a start.

To the Manila Dragons breast cancer survivors, nasty and petty comments thrown at you will not diminish the strength of your spirits.

As for the labels, I personally wish to defy those labels as I intend to play until my old age. Sports for All means sports is for all. No one has the right to discourage healthy individuals from embracing a sporting life.

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