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The traditional education system is centred primarily around academic curricula, in which students are expected to excel in academic subjects and are graded according to their performance in exams. The model has developed after decades of following a pattern and experimentations in the same direction to standardise content, delivery and assessment. Even teachers' training and system development is focused around the suitability and betterment of the academic curricula. Educational institutions do feature activities other than textbooks, namely sports, art, music and craft, but these are bracketed under the category of extracurricular activities and are often treated as non-essential in the overall assessment structure. Many institutions also have robust infrastructure for extracurricular activities and engage their students to participate in them, but in the absence of a formal inclusion as a valuable subject to be learned, the seriousness of these pursuits is lost, more so if parental encouragement is also missing.
Sports is an extracurricular activity in the traditional school system. Institutions offer a scope to learn various forms of sports and other physical activities in campus and often hold competitions throughout the year. Many students who excel in them participate in inter-school competitions and other major tournaments. Apart from the support extended by the schools, parents play a significant role in developing these talents. Sadly, where parents do not earn well, they fail to bear the cost burden of expensive professional training and appropriate diets that are long-term requirements for raising children as professional sports persons. This may even be one of the major reasons for sports not being taken as seriously as academic subjects. It is worse in the case of poorer nations. Having bleak ‘job prospects’ in the conventional sense is one of the major reasons sports and other similar activities are not considered mainstream.
It goes without saying that sports impart many benefits for the overall personality development of students and enthusiasts. It enhances the well-being of the body as well as that of the mind. Regular sporting activities ensure long term good health and fitness, keeping immunity levels strong. It also helps to keep motor skills at peak level and to maintain better coordination and body balance. Further, being a sportsperson encourages good eating habits from a very young age and helps educate children to stay away from unhealthy consumption of processed and fast food. There are several benefits to the development of the mind, too. Sports promote alertness, team spirit, and decision-making skills; and fosters a positive optimistic outlook. These things go a long way in promoting and protecting good health throughout the life.
The spirit of sports is lost not only when students grow up, but even during their school tenure, since it is not a compulsory pass or fail subject. Therefore we have issues such as poor eating habits, teenage obesity, depression, low self-esteem, and other health problems that afflict a large number of individuals at a young age. Mental health problems may even trigger hazardous habits such as drug abuse and bullying. And these issues may well engulf children and youngsters who are good at academics. There are innumerable ways through which sports enrich our lives, and that should be an adequate advocate for incorporating it into the group of mainstream subjects. Not only does the approach of educational institutions need to change, but also that of the professional organisations as they evaluate individuals for their suitability. If achievements in sports and other similar activities was respected as much as educational skills, we would have a fairer, healthier parity in all competitions and tests, better teams to work with, better work environments, and consequently a better society.
Coherence and Cohesion