Globally, sports as an industry has a unifying appeal. The sports industry boasts of a dynamic appeal that many other, even bigger industries look at with envy. It has the power to define nations as a whole. Sports offer a perfect opportunity to explore scientific concepts such as force, motion, potential energy, velocity, and torque. For many students, school-organized sports play an important role in their academic and social experiences. Every school has sports embedded in their curriculum as they understand the importance of physical health and activity. However, the importance given to sports ends there as this inclusion is just for the sake of a formality.
Under the Khelo India scheme, the Government is supporting the development of sports at the grassroots levels through the initiative such as Khelo India School Games. This programme has been introduced to revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root levels by building a strong framework for all sports played in the country and with the aim to establish India as a great sporting country. The twelve areas have been identified under this scheme, which will impact the entire sports ecosystem including sports infrastructure, talent identification, coaching for excellence, community sports, competition structure and sports economy.
Schools and colleges are environments where young people spend a significant amount of time. During these formative years, along with quality education, an emphasis on sports and physical education framework is equally important. Educational environments need to be supportive of students being physically active. The importance of adopting sports and education for the success of youth development has been recognized by the Indian Government as early as 1984 when the National Sports Policy recommended making sports and physical education an integral part of the school curriculum. National Sports Policy, 2011 stresses on the point that sports and physical education play an important role in developing human capital, increase productivity and foster social harmony.
Typically School athletic activities provide enjoyable, supervised activities for youth. Student-athletes report healthier eating habits, higher levels of cardiovascular fitness, increased parental support and decreased anxiety and depression. Furthermore, a *national study from 2014 showed a positive association between participating in school sports and lower rates of tobacco, drug, and alcohol use. The Youth who participate in sports were also more likely to disapprove of their peers’ substance abuse
One also notices an interesting shift in the mindset of parents; they are now aware and understand the importance of a physically fit body. The realization of the negative impact that today’s lifestyle brings on their children has made parents become proactive in their search for options for their child’s fitness, they now encourage their children to take up some form of sports or physical activity along with their studies. Way forward a change in the mindset of the community as a whole will play a major role to ensure success in this direction.
Campaigns focused on sports and education integration can cut across the diversity of our country making people more cognizant of the benefits of sports in education. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) survey conducted on 2017, close to 60% of the respondents strongly agree that more emphasis is given to education than to sports in India. The education sector should play a crucial role in promoting sports in India. Sports education not only builds physical stamina but also instills qualities such as obedience, determination, willpower, and discipline. Some of the positive effects of education in sports are:
- Children are introduced to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle early in their lives by instilling the habit and culture of taking up outdoor activities.
- Introduction of sports curriculum at an early stage can act as building blocks for future sportspersons.
- It can develop a strong ecosystem, along with other stakeholders such as authorities, federations, sports clubs, etc.
- It will generate employment opportunities for people such as coaches, physical trainers, and sports facility operators.
- It will provide educational opportunities through scholarships for underprivileged talent.
Schools in India are gradually beginning to realize the importance of sports in the overall development of children, and how vital it is to encourage them to take up sports. The growing awareness of how sports contribute to the growth of children in terms of life skills has led parents and school authorities to encourage children to take up sports, whereas previously the focus was entirely on academics. The realization that sports help in the development of teamwork, trust, sharing responsibilities and working together towards a common goal has led to a spurt in the sports activities in schools.
Slowly, educationalists and government departments have realized the importance of sports’ and are planning for inclusions in the curriculum which is an essential part of the present- day school education. If the government and educationalist initiatives are properly laid down, one can see a different face of the students in the future.
By Mr. Uday Kumar, Lead Educator
The article was published in India Today on November 27, 2018.