I am no sportsman… almost not quite.

Today, I had a taste of sportsmanship again. It was a really teeny tiny experience but it brought back a love for sports (and competition).

Today, my little girl in Nursery had Sports Day in school and there was a parent-child segment. We were at separate ends of the tele-match track. She was to run to me with a ball without dropping it and I was to piggy back her back to the starting point without dropping the ball for the next pair. It was over in a few seconds but it was great fun!!! Neither she nor I cared about who was watching or even who was winning. We just cared about doing our best and having fun.

I came home and tried to recall how it was like playing competitive games/sports during my younger days. Did I try to impress my crush? Did I care about “earning new suitors” because of it? Did I even care if my family was present and watching? Did I even care if my friends, classmates, coursemates, schoolmates, strangers were watching and liked or disliked my performance? I traced through my primary, secondary and and tertiary education days and realised that all the experiences were the same… I was just having fun by doing my best. Of course, I / the team always wanted to win. But I realised that even when we didn’t, it didn’t matter. We were just happy.

When I read news about our Yip Pin Xiu or Schooling, or any medalist for that matter, saying that they compete not for gold, fame or money, I’m usually skeptical. I could not wrap my head around why someone would train so hard to compete and really not care about winning… until my reflection time today. It IS possible. It is possible that there are people doing it just because they love to do their best to be first but at the end it didn’t really matter.

I was selected for the athletic / track & field team when I was in Primary School. Quite often, I ran the fastest, jumped the highest and leaped furthest. But because I was such a “blur queen” back then, I eventually stopped turning up for training. I always found competitions fun but never took them seriously. If I had, my life could have become quite different, I think.

Then I became over-zealous in secondary school. I played every game that I had time for with whoever was willing to play with me. Tennis, Basketball, badminton, squash, netball, volleyball, bowling. I was all over the shop that I didn’t even get a PASS grade for sports… and also earned myself shoulder, wrist and knee injuries from getting the skills mixed up.

It was also a time when we played with people we hardly knew. We played with people who simply appeared at our court. We played with fellow school mates from other classes or levels. Our common interest? The sport.

Then during my tertiary education days, I decided to focus and chose Basketball. That’s when I collected my foot injury. It was unfortunate that I did not clique warmly with my chinese-speaking team mates. Nonetheless, we played together for 3 years as a pretty good team and had good fun at inter-varsity games.

Somehow, your 1st language does define your culture. Even when using the same language to communicate, we felt rather different from each other. Language & Culture – that’s another topic for another day. So to this day, other than remembering certain features of certain team mates (e.g. super long hair gal, super tall girl, super small girl), I cannot remember anyone’s name or anything else about them.

Being very much an introvert who likes team games, I eventually stopped sports when I entered the workforce. I prefer being alone. Yet, I will only be very enticed to get active provided it’s a team game like basketball. It’s a paradoxical situation, I know. An introvert who prefers team games?

Well… that’s the power of sportsmanship. And I think that’s the meaning of sportsmanship… at least to me.

Sportsmanship is about being unbiased and humble. It is about doing your best not for glory or fame. It knows no human boundaries. It doesn’t matter if you are Asian or Caucasian, small or tall, English or Chinese-speaking, shy or thick-skinned. No one views another as superior or inferior. We are competing for the fun of it and do not have to feel sore about not winning.

Conclusion… if you have true sportsmanship playing with the like-minded, every competition is nothing but only fun.


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