A reformed sports junkie ruminates about the sports experience
I stopped playing football about a year and a half ago, confesses the fit and athletic looking 37 year old. It was the violence that brought the atmosphere down and ultimately pushed me off. At least, that is what I thought at the time when I quit.
I had been doing sports as a way to improve myself. But it was a forced drive, not a natural one. I was constantly pushing myself to do better, to exceed my own expectations. Only much later did I realise that dissatisfaction with my own attitude was the true reason for stopping football.
Sports can be a very direct mirror to understand oneself. People do sports for all kinds of reasons. If you observe how people play the game, you can easily read their motivations. There are those who do sports from an outer drive, for the recognition, for getting into the national championships, for beating the other team. There are others who don't need any of that. For them, sports is yoga just the act of taking a ball and shooting at a basket is fulfilling. There is no need to prove anything external.
When I started playing again, it was that attitude that I tried to keep: stay aware, concentrated, and never start mentally pushing myself. As soon as I feel I am not comfortable either with my body or with what ever happens outside, I let go and step out. Earlier, even if I was uncomfortable, I would just force myself to continue.
This different attitude gives quite a magnificent feel: you are one with the game. Some sportsmen have that naturally. There is a boy from the village, skinny and tall, who moves on the basketball court like a gazelle. In Alankuppam village I watched men without training doing the 100-metre dash. There were 4 or 5 amongst them who stood apart because of their beautiful technique and style as if they were doing yoga without being aware of doing it.
If Aurovilians can do sports from that inner attitude, where the quality of the game and the dedication of each player is more important than the outcome, a great step will have been made. My dream is that one day football teams will play each other without the need for referees.