School of sport: If you do what you love

Marriage proposal

The thought of marriage can be quite daunting, if not terrifying, for some, even to the point whereby during one marriage service, the nervous groom was asked “Wilt thou take this woman to be thy lawful wedded wife?” to which he replied, “I wilt”.

Well might he wilt under such pressure! If the unfortunate young man had managed his lines correctly, he might have recognised that in saying he will take the lady as his wife he was not simply agreeing to do so but was acknowledging it would require his will power at times to do so.

As an old Don Francisco song went, “Love is not a feeling but an act of your will”.

It is for the most part such an act of our will that keeps marriages going.

Marriages do not succeed because either or both parties are fearful of losing their partner; they do not stay married because they are scared of not simply being alone again but of facing the embarrassment of being divorced.

We may well put on Factor 50 sun cream for fear of having our skin burnt by the sun’s rays but fear is not a factor to enter the equation of a marriage.

What makes a marriage really work is love, plain and simple.

The thoughts above may come into play when we consider again the statement made by the successful Chelsea Women’s coach, Emma Hayes, quoted in a previous article, that the “Fear of losing drives me more than the will to win”.

We reflected on how we do not wish our youngsters to be brought up playing sport for such a reason as the fear of failure.

They need to know how to handle failure so that it is nothing to be afraid of.

There are better things to drive our children when it comes to sport, better than the fear of failure and indeed the will to win.

Above all, what should be driving children, and indeed adults, is a love of playing, just as it is love that is the energy in a fruitful, faithful marriage relationship.

What should send them out day after day, week after week, season after season, to play sport? In a word, it should be love; they should love playing.

After all, as Marc Anthony said, “If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.” If they love sport they will go out and do it again and again, without ever wondering why they should go on doing it.

Playing sport will be as natural as breathing.

If we only play sport for fear of failure, then there will be many days when we do not enjoy it – when we have failed because we have failed!

Similarly, if what drives us in sport is the will to win, each time we lose there is less drive available.

If, however, we have a love of playing that is not based on the will to win or the fear of losing, but quite simply on the joy and love of being able to play, then we have unlimited opportunities to enjoy it.

It will give our children a deep sense of freedom and delight.

When our children enjoy the playing no matter the circumstances, then they will come out again and again to play more.

The problem is that we tend to push our youngsters to win to the extent that if they do not win they do not enjoy the sport.

We can enjoy a match even when we have lost or even when we have played badly, not least as we can see it as an opportunity to learn and to grow.

We can enjoy the wonderful experience of being able to play sport, to enter into competition to gauge what level we are at, to be part of a team that combines together to pursue a common goal.

Indeed, the love of playing sport becomes a joy of living, with all the gifts and opportunities presented.

The love of playing sport becomes a pleasure in sharing with others who are similarly minded.

The love of playing sport generates a hope of learning, from all that every scenario presents the children with.

It develops a delight in growing as a character and person through the different experiences.

What drives a marriage is not the fear of divorce or indeed the will to make it work; it is the love for the other person, the delight in being together, through thick and thin.

We want our children to enjoy a relationship with sport that they simply love doing it — that way it will become a lifelong engagement that brings fulfilment, enjoyment, enrichment — without any wilting! Love it!

*Tim Middleton is a former international hockey player and headmaster, currently serving as the Executive Director of the Association of Trust Schools Email: [email protected]

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