Educators are prime witnesses of humanity’s progress: sports became an integral part of education in most schools around the world at the turn of the previous century. Blended with academics and culture, sports enhance a way of life based on the joy of effort.
Sports allow our students to understand that real competition is with one’s self: picking up a challenge at one’s own measure, focusing, planning, learning from others, training and achieving, whatever it takes. Sportsmanship is cultivated as a universal ethical value, and good example leads to social responsibility. Friendship, solidarity and fair play all come into play on the sport fields, as well as during outdoor activities in general. By the way, Aristotle cultivated experiential education in the open air and Nietzsche warned against any idea not originating while walking outdoor!
Even more than intellectual prowess, sports allow for an exalting feeling. Apart from sleeping and classroom time, the practice of sports is, in today’s world, probably the only moments when our students are away from the glue of their smartphones and social networks. Subtle classroom hierarchies are re-mixed in the gym or the track field. Prejudices and discrimination often disappear naturally. The more recent surge of women athlete and participation in sports such as football is to be celebrated as a step towards gender equality. At times of war or political strife, sport tournaments remain islands of peace and examples of cooperation between people. And, finally, sport is key to the social integration of disabled people.
Privileged to lead a school, and before that several companies, I always pay attention to the sport and outdoor hobbies practiced by candidates to a job, and often let them speak about it: one finds balance, strength, and resilience in people who have had the chance to practice sports and learn its value at their school.
Philippe De Korodi
Managing Director at Collège Champittet