By Greta Kraszula
From grassroots sporting levels to the elite, local competitions to the National leagues; world-wide sport has come to a standstill. What are the implications of this? Are there benefits to this sporting ‘switch off’?
A sense of realism undoubtedly arose following the International Olympic Committees’ (IOC) decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics until Japan’s Summer in 2021. Historically, this decision will mark the first time the Olympics have been delayed, with previous cancellations only occurring because of World Wars in 1916, 1940 and 1944.
Following this unprecedented decision a joint statement from the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee revealed how the Olympic Games could stand as a “beacon of hope for the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present”.
Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carrol also acknowledged how “Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the games”, and once we move past these difficult times the Olympic Games will provide an opportunity for the world to reconnect in a spirit of unity and hope.
Interestingly this periodic suspension of sporting activities has made more poignant the role that sport has on national and cultural identity.
Where Australia is grappling with the void of AFL and Rugby League and Union matches, Europe’s main sporting enterprise of Football effectively has been made redundant for the time being. Similarly, the English Premier League; the most watched sporting league in world, culminating a global audience of 3.2 billion during their previous 2018/19 season encapsulates the enduring presence sport has in people’s lives. Ultimately, the challenge will be coming up with a coherent and unanimous strategy which fulfills the requirements of all sporting associations. This is an extremely difficult task considering how individualised each sporting body is in terms of governance and competition scheduling. Similarly, “Sport has always been the arm around the shoulder at the end of major trauma,” states Andy Dolich; business operative for the Memphis Grizzlies, but “Now sport are right in the middle of it”.
However, in a sense, this epitomises what the sporting experience is all about. Sport, often likened to a ‘simulation of life’, teaches invaluable life lessons of composure, leadership, improvisation and selflessness, always putting the team before the individual. As stated by John Brenkus “The talent of staying calm under pressure is the singular thing that separates good from great”. Now more than ever, we need to be “great”. We must act under pressure, with ease and level headedness, irrespective of whether our favourite sports are being televised or not. Ultimately, successful teams, under pressure maintain their form and understand their roles even in the most difficult of times, continuing to contribute with purpose and resolve.
For the athletes themselves, this time is no different to periods of injury or moments of adversity. It’s also an opportunistic time for rest and recovery, as well as time of self-reflection and mindfulness, evaluating personal and team goals looking forward.
So perhaps we have all arrived at half time.
As a ‘team’ we must re-group and reflect, because a ‘win’ can only be achieved by every individual cooperating as one united force.