This I Believe

Lori - Kansas City, Michigan
Entered on July 25, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: sports

I am saddened by the news, recently, regarding the Game-Fixing penalties issued to the Italian Soccer Clubs. After the coverage of the incredible spectacle of the World Cup, bringing many countries together to cheer and support their teams, this is a horrible after-math in which fans around the world will remember.

It seems the media is reporting more occurrences of doping, steroid –use and game fixing. Is it, that there are more occurrences, or just more people associated with sports or athletes being discovered. Have professional sports and the striving to make more money corrupted them all?

What happened to the cheer love of Sport! The joy and personal satisfaction of achieving a goal, or personal best; the awe inspiring abilities of the human body and what heights it can climb as a result of training or testing the limits! This is why I have been an athlete all my life, the adrenalin rush that occurs from physical activity and the joy of working toward a goal and achieving it. Since childhood, when my siblings threw me into a swimming pool, through high school varsity swimming and softball, long distance running and tennis have taught me some many things and truly formed the person I am today.

Participation in Sports brings so many things to us and society besides the unsportsmanlike-like activities that the media seems to dwell on. I believe it is spreading to our youth and even our recreational sports. It’s not enough to participate and share all the wonderful things sports can give us: personal satisfaction, building goals and striving to achieve them, strength in character, and the ability to work as a team, conflict resolution and support of other human beings are just some to mention. It seems winning at all cost is a priority. Bending the rules or breaking them, even, to get a head of the competition is occurring on a regular basis and in some sports, accepted.

I am luck enough to have a full-time job in a sport that I love, tennis. I see occurrences of bending the rules, match manipulation (tanking) on a regular basis and it amazes me every time I have to deal with situations like this. What motivates adults to behave like this? Where is the joy of the sport? Where is their integrity? Where is the integrity in sports today?

Just when I become jaded or discouraged, and need a fresh perspective, I get the opportunity to participate or attend a wheelchair tennis event. I recently attended a rally for new and experienced wheelchair tennis players. The experienced players were on the courts teaching basic skills to the new players. Both children and adults were participating. Theirs goals were simple to the uninformed, make contact with the ball with the racquet, but the player in a wheelchair, this is monumental. The incredible obstacles which need to be over-come just to achieve this one goal are tremendous. Not only do these potential athletes have to keep their wheels moving, but hold the racquet in their hand while pushing their wheels, but also meet the ball, at the last possible moment, while turning their chairs in the opposite direction of where they want the ball to go to maintain their inertia. This act is truly awesome and the players determined spirit emanates from the courts with such strength, no spectator can not be inspired! This is the true meaning of sport! This is where the jaded, the discouraged, the lost can experience all the attributes of participating in a Game.

I encourage all, who need that bit of fresh perspective, to seek out wheelchair athletes, get to know these true heroes of our society and learn from them! I do, every chance I get!