Growing up, it’s sportsmen and athletes who’ve been the source of inspiration for most of us. More than historical personalities and film stars, it’s these sportspersons who we’ve seen bring glory to our country – the heroes who put their teams ahead of them, who struggle and win despite adversities and criticism, who seem to never tire and who have the strength, skill and speed of super humans. But ever so often, I find that this sheer technical brilliance is marred by unnecessary expressions of aggression and violence, and it’s here that we get a glimpse of the darker side of competitive sports and sportspersons. As sportspersons, or rather, as anyone in a position of influence, one has to understand the sense of responsibility that comes along with the praise and adulation. “I am what I am” is no longer good enough when there are people across the world looking up to you and learning from you. One has to realize that sports are nothing if the spirit of sport is not upheld. Every shot, every goal and every word spoken is watched and heard by millions of star-struck kids across the world – those who themselves dream of becoming the next Tendulkar, Federer or Messi someday. And it’s here that public acts of aggression on the field have such damaging repercussions. Children begin to associate being a good sportsperson with being aggressive – that it’s not possible to play a good shot without cussing, and that it’s necessary to intimidate one’s opponents to get a good result in the game. But what we have to realize is that sports and aggression aren’t two sides to the same coin, but rather, completely separated from each other. The opposite, in fact, is true; the more calm and composed you’re able to stay through any competitive sports, the better your chances of performance. Getting agitated will only make you lose sight of your goals and cause you to make more mistakes. So the next time you’re confronted with someone who might outplay you, don’t resort to menial acts of aggression. Be cool, be patient, and focus on your game –because that’s what will make you great.

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