Outline: The connection between mind and body – the neglect of physical education – sports are the best means of physical development – they instil valuable qualities – the duke of Wellington’s remark
‘A sound mind in a sound body’ is an expression so familiar and so often quoted that its meaning is likely to have lost something of its edge and appeal. Yet it expresses a profound truth and formulates an ideal which every individual should set before himself. The body is the temple of the mind and is intimately connected with it. Bodily ailments stunt the growth of the mind, just as mental maladies affect the health of the body.
The education that is imparted in our schools and colleges is mainly intellectual. It is true that every school and college has a playground and offers facilities for sports like cricket and football. But participation in games is not compulsory and little account is taken of it while awarding certificates and degrees. Besides, there is an acute shortage of playgrounds in large cities. Our educationists should realise the organic connection between mind and body, and pay more attention and importance to the physical training of the young.
Outdoor games like hockey, football, basketball and tennis are the best means of ensuring physical health and development. They have several advantages over other forms of exercise. They provide not only exercise for the body but recreation for the mind. Exercising one’s limbs at home or in a gymnasium-calls for some effort of the will, but boys and girls have natural inclination for sports and they derive exercise from them in an agreeable way, without specially exerting themselves. They return to their studies, feeling refreshed and energetic.
Sports also inculcate valuable qualities in young people. They learn how to cooperate with one another and to subordinate their selfish desires to the interests of the team. They learn to play the game, practising fair play and showing generosity towards their opponents. In other words, they cultivate the quality of sportsmanship, which consists in playing a game according to its rules and accepting defeat with good temper. They are likely to follow the ideal of sportsman spirit in life also, showing honesty and uprightness in their dealings with others and never using unfair means to attain personal ends.
The Duke of Wellington emphasised the importance of sports in his memorable remark. “The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton”. He meant that England’s victory at Waterloo was due to certain qualities like physical courage, co-operation, and loyalty displayed by her officers – qualities which they had learnt from sports and games when they were boys in Eton. It may be said that India’s battle with poverty and ignorance will be won on the playing fields of our schools and colleges.
Difficult Words: Formulates – expresses clearly. maladies – illness, disorders. inculcate – fix firmly, instil.