In the article “Democracy, Education, and Sport” by Peter Arnold states that democracy is “ based on the belief that each human being is of value, and that each citizen is guaranteed certain rights that operate in practice and are not just formal…” In our society we try to separate sport from education and politics, when sport can clearly play a role in both. In this article I want to discuss some of the ways that sport is intertwined in democracy and how it may be a useful tool in putting into action the rationality a democratic society and its education expect their citizens to uphold.
The Parallel of Sport and Democracy
In a democratic society we are suppose to uphold a certain moral value. It is said that democracy is “by the people, for the people and of the people”. Our parents and society teach us what is right and wrong, moral and unmoral. Arnold states that “at the heart of democratic ideal is the belief that all people regardless of their color, race, or creed should be respected, not only because this is desirable in itself but because they are the centers of consciousness…” We are fortunate to live in a society where we are able to speak our mind, under a government that supports our free will as people and accepts us no matter what our color, race, or creed. At least this is the ideal. I believe that sport can also play a role in teaching society the same values. In professional sports we come together, united by our common interests to support an activity and passion that brings together those of all different backgrounds. What would we be without the large sporting events? The Olympics? During such events, as stated before in a few other blog posts, it is a reflection of our societies ideals, and brings people of different views and backgrounds together. If we did not have sport what kind of society would we become? Sport provides a physical release of stress and improves overall well being. The act of participation and adherence to a sport just reinforces the beliefs of a democratic society. So the question remains, how can we further develop sport as part of our society in order to fully receive not just the extrinsic, but also intrinsic values of sport?
Sport and Education
In education we have a tendency to focus on qualities of the mind, and discredit the benefits of our physical well being and its benefits to the mind. In Arnolds article he suggests the idea that liberal education, is “concerned with the liberation of the person who receives it,” this liberation should be mental and physical. He believes that this type of education compliments the beliefs of a democratic society. To make a deeper distinction of mental and physical aspects of education, Arnold uses the terms theoretical and practical rationality along with morality as being the two central strands in what it means to be liberally educated. If we want to change the way our education system teaches young children what is right and wrong, further intertwining sport into our education is the key. As I see it, the current education system does include sport as an extracurricular activity, it does help unite schools, faculty and students for a common goal. Yet physical education is the first program to be cut. This may be due to the view of sport as only holding physical benefits. It is now time to include the intrinsic benefits of incorporating sport and physical activity into the lives of our children. We must show the youth not only how things work but allow them to experience physically what it means to uphold taught values of morality, respect, fairness, that are provided when you participate in sports or physical activity. If we teach kids why they play sports and how all the values we teach them should be applied I think that sport would be an amazing tool for social change. The benefits of sport in which I speak of are learned respect for others, fairness and cooperation, to accept others and work as a team, along with the physical benefits of improved circulation, a decreased risk for injury and heart disease, and an higher chance of living an active lifestyle as an adult. If we are able to show the next generation that physical activity can help them manage the stresses of life, keep them from illness and disease so they can enjoy the life they life more fully, then we will be on the right track.
I would love to see the day when people uphold sport and physically activity as highly as they do mathematics and science. We are taught to use our mind, but I believe that the act of MOVING helps sharpen our mind. Our bodies are made to move and by participating in a sport we are learning to use the best piece of technology we will ever own, ourselves. Along with learning to take care of the one body we have in this lifetime, we are intrinsically adhering to the rules and learning to work with each other in harmony, despite any differences. We must use our democratic advantage to liberate our minds and bodies.