Sports in Central and South Asia

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I keep hearing this same commercial on the radio.  The commercial isn't advertising a product, a brand, or even a service.  It is advertising a better life...through high school sports.  

High school football is like religion in Texas, where I grew up.  When those Friday night lights come on, fans pack out the stadium.  They come early, stay late, and cheer loud.  Unlike the Sunday sermons that everyone attends because that's just what people do, no one is bored.  High school football and other sports in the United States teach the participants the importance of sacrifice and self-discipline by giving them a goal to achieve.  As the aforementioned radio commercial points out, high school sports help the economy, and they build character.  Yet, few people in America realize how lucky they are to have such opportunities.

In developing countries, sports are a luxury.  Sports require money that the government and its citizens do not have to spend.  Even though sports can help to promote the educational system in developing countries, opportunities to play them are not widely available.  As referenced in the video below, low-cost sports like judo and wrestling help to "level the playing field" for developing countries because very few resources are required of the participants.  However, as the video also mentions, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has removed wrestling, a sport that requires virtually no resources, from future Olympic events.  

By eliminating low-cost, easy-to-practice sports in central and south Asia, as well as many other developing countries, the IOC is (intentionally or not) eliminating great athletes who do not have opportunities for "elitist" sports such as tennis and golf.    Sometimes I wonder if the United States always wins the most medals in the Olympics because of its great athletes or because of its great wealth.  American culture places great importance on sports and consequently directs much of its money that way; south Asian culture does not.  The question, to me, is not one of athleticism but of opportunity.  And if we are being honest, aren't we all more inspired by the stories of Olympic heroes who come from nothing than by the stories of the ones who grew up having it all? 

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About the author


Mary Rachel Fenrick is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Education and a minor in Spanish. She currently teaches Special Education and English for Norman Public Schools in Norman, Oklahoma. Some of her passions include reading, writing, editing, teaching, distance running,…

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