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Sports have been and always will be the favorite past time of us earthlings.
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Anywhere in the world, sports has always played a significant role in building and enchancing a nation's image and identity specially in international competitions like the OLYMPIC and WORLD CUP events. Be it soccer, basketball, tennis, boxing, swimming, chess or other major sporting events, sports has always been the rallying point of every sports enthusiasts the world over. In fact, sports can instill a fiery sense of nationalistic pride in defense of a country's team at play against a bitter rival.
I remember many years ago, war nearly broke out between two South American countries over a championship game of soccer. Can you beat that?
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During the Olympics for example, nations vie with one another to show who is the mightiest of them all. The more gold medals garnered the better. A country that wins the most golds does prove its superiority and supremacy not only in sports but also its ranking in the world. The global super powers has to keep and maintain that image through sports at all costs. That's why billions of dollars are spent to train only the best of their very best athletes. The US, Russia, China, the UK and France always remain the top favorites in all olympic events.
Usually, it is the US and Russia that vie for the most golds most especially during the Cold War era. After the fall of the USSR, their ranking in the olympics declined.
In Asia, China always proves itself to be the best and dominant competitor, with Japan and Korea following suit. Even if countries have their ideological differences, the olympics and other major sporting events always brings and binds athletes of all races, colors and creeds closer through the spirit of international sportsmanship and cooperation.
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On the other hand, lesser countries sometimes prove themselves to be more superior in a particular sport. Take Brazil for example. They are known to be a force to reckon with when it comes to World Cup Soccer Matches.
Iran also excels in basketball and other sports.
Africans are champions when it comes to track and field.
Cuba is known for their excellent boxers.
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India, Pakistan and the UK are known avid cricket players. This game is a total UNKNOWN in the Philippines.
The UK, Australia, Germany and some European countries are unbeatable in a game of Rugby. Americans however, have their own homegrown game called football. Both Rugby and American Football are considered the toughest contact sport there is. You would often see players pulled out of the game due to serious injuries. Not my cup of tea! LOL!
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Of course, baseball is as synonymous to american hotdog. Who can beat the americans in this exciting game? In Asia, Japan tops this league.
Table tennis is as Chinese as "chopsuey". Yes, China is master of this game.
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Now for those mind games, Russia holds the most champions in a game of Chess. Likewise, Russians dominate olympic shooting competitions.
In swimming, it's the americans who garner the most golds.
Temperate countries like Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Norway excel in mountain skiing and ice skating competitions.
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My small country, the Philippines was once upon a time the best Asian country in terms of basketball back in the 60's.
We had Mona Solaiman, a lady athlete dubbed as Asia's fastest runner. We also had the likes of Paeng Nepomoceno, a world champion bowler and an international billiard sensation, Efren Bata Reyes. I hope our Philippine basketball team makes it to the forthcoming Rio Olympics qualifier games.
Today however, China is the top Asian country to beat in practically all kinds of sports except boxing I guess.
Our own Manny Pacquiao prides himself to be the only 8-Division Boxing Champion in the whole world. He placed the Philippines in the map of the world as one of the greatest boxing champions of all time. Sports indeed can change the lives of people.
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Manny is one example of a "rags to riches" story. From extreme poverty, he rose to world prominence through sheer guts and determination to become a well-loved and respected international champion. He is now a multi-billionaire and currently a successful politician. Though super rich, Manny remains very humble.
I am sure there are many other athletes worldwide who rose to fame through sports. Famous sportsmen serve as an inspiration for others to emulate and to follow. Sports programs are the best way for the youth to enhance their skills, shun away from drugs or crime and develop themselves to be sporting champions in their own right and become the pride of their nation in the long run.
A society that is sports minded will always remain a fun loving, disciplined and a peaceful place to live in. Sportsmanship is a virtue that conditions an athlete to remain honorable and humble in victory or defeat. Engaging in sports can instill and develop a sense of camaraderie and teamwork amongst players. Meaning, you are never alone and you are one with the team.
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I also remember a dirty and poverty stricken place in the Philippines we call Smokey Mountain. It is actually a big garbage dumpsite in Manila. Because of the persistence of a group of Filipino sportsmen, they were able to form a formidable team of baseball and soccer players who now competes in both local and international events.
Yes, sports do change lives in any society for that matter.
As for me, soccer is my favorite sport. I do not engage in the sport but I find soccer matches to be very exciting to watch. I guess it's because of the great teamwork manifested by players of rival sides. Or, perhaps it's because of the way a player would exert much effort and give all his best to kick the ball to make a goal despite all odds. Or... I guess it's also because I always love to KICK ass when I was still working as an Executive Assistant. LOL! Keep on track-in guys!