Education through Sports

The Biggest Loser; Ranataunga Karunananda who represented Sri Lanka at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics showed the world that ‘Winning Isn’t Everything’.     Taking part in 10,000 meters he was lapped four times when the winner USA’s Billy Mills broke the tape to finish the race. But Karunananda continued to run and finish his event, first amidst jeers by the spectators but later with their cheers and applause. His story was a lesson in Japan’s schools, now in Sri Lankan school as well.
Education and Sports are like two sides of the same coin. They are so much interconnected and linked. Sports is an integral part of the Education System in Sri Lanka. Moreover, I would say Sports has become part and parcel of the Education System in Sri Lanka. A classic example is the Annual Sports Meets of schools. The Annual Sports Meet is a mandatory event in the School Academic Year. Almost all the schools in Sri Lanka carry out sports activities within the framework of their academic calendar. The heading “Education through Sports” invites us to ponder the questions; “Why is sports so important?” and “What is the impact of sports on the lives of students?”
Formation of Character   
Sports certainly builds up the character of a person. Character formation of a student is of utmost important and its significance is realized when he/she steps into the world as an adult. Undoubtedly sports does play a pivotal role in the character formation of students.  
 Characters full of values and virtues are a great asset to society. Nowadays the world lacks men and women of virtues and values, characters full of human qualities. Sports helps students to learn virtues and values. A full discussion on the gamut of the formation of the character of students is not possible within a limited space. Nevertheless, the following points would do justice to the topic.   
Team Work  
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This famous African proverb reminds us of the importance of Team Work. The world today seeks for personnel who can work together in harmony as a team. Team Work and Team Spirit are highly recognized factors in the modern world. Students who are into sports really learn from their childhood to work as a team and with a team. Team work helps to unravel various strata of character formation.  
Accept one another as brothers and sisters of one family.  
All of us belong to one family; that is the human family. We are a multi ethnic, multi religious and multi-cultural family. Though we are from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds, in sports that difference is not found. Students who are into sports, meet students from different backgrounds. Sports helps to create the bond that unites them together to accept one another and to work towards a common goal.   
One of the major values that every human being needs to practice in life is Respect. Students who are into sports learn and practice this value from the initial stages. At the very outset they learn to respect their coaching staff and their own team mates. The second stage would be that they learn to respect their opponents and the officials of the tournament.   
Punctuality and the Time Table  
Punctuality and adherence to the Practice Time Table are compulsory for students engaged in different sports. Students learn the value of punctuality and they learn to work according to a given time table. This actually moulds the character of a person. In the world in which we live today, we come across lots of people who do not respect the time of the others. Sports gives a real formation on punctuality and the need to respect and adhere to a particular time table. Working according to a set time table teaches one to respect the value of time. 
Students who are into sports, meet students from different backgrounds. Sports helps to create the bond that unites them together 
Positive Attitude towards Life and its Challenges.   
Sports encourages us to face challenges in life. The process is so hard and challenging. The process of sports is full of challenges and hardships. To be constant in practice, to get into the playing team, to be physically and mentally strong, to execute the plan during play and to be able to adapt to the given situation can be really challenging. This indeed is a real formation for them to face life challenges positively and to strive hard till the last second in all endeavours and circumstances in life. 
To be Humble in Victory and Gracious in Defeat.   
Winning and losing are part and parcel of every sport. Sportsmen/Women need to learn to accept both defeat and victory. Moreover this teaches them to learn from their mistakes and move forward. Sports teaches us how to celebrate victory and accept defeat.   
Focus and the Commitment to reach the target.   
Every sport has its own target. To accomplish the set target is not something easy and rosy. It’s rather challenging. Focus and Commitment are of utmost important to achieve the set target. To focus on the goal and the ultimate target and the commitment to achieve it are highly remarkable qualities. Students into sports are privileged in a special way to learn how to focus and committed towards reaching a set target.   
Plan and Practice  
There is a famous saying and it goes like this; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Life is all about planning with the grace of God. There are successful and unsuccessful stories that we hear in the society in which we live. People who have a lot of planning in their day to day programmes are the people who fall into the successful category most of the time. Moreover, plan and practice are like two faces of the same coin. As it is said, “Inspiration without perspiration is mere aspiration.” Planning with absolute commitment and practice will take people to greater heights. Students who are into sports certainly learn this habit of planning and practice mechanism.   
Courage and Perseverance   
Courage and Perseverance are two important virtues that students learn in and through sports. It is courage and perseverance that keep students zealous and enthusiastic in reaching their set target in sports. There are a number of occasions where students fail due to various reasons. Nevertheless, sports teaches them to be courageous and persevere till the last blow.  
 All in all, sports does facilitate students to be more vibrant, alive and active in all circumstances of life. Moreover, sports creates a fully-fledged personality who has a positive approach to all situations in life.

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