(Leading decision-makers from sports, politics, business, academics and NGOs converged for the first time at the FIFA Headquarters in Zurich to define the role of sports in solving societal problems and to celebrate best practise examples of ethical sportsmanship. Sri Sri who is the co-founder of the WFEB, spoke on how sports can be used for peace and reconciliation. Below is the transcript of Gurudev's talk.)
Good morning ladies and gentlemen! I am happy to be here today amidst accomplished people in the fields of sports, business, politics, and lovers of sports.
Sports is such an integral part of life. A child starts playing even before it starts speaking. Language comes later, but sports come first. Games are so inherent in our nature, and after retirement also people sit and watch soccer with a cup of cappuccino, almost through-out their lives.
I think that the one thing that continues through-out life is sports, and sports contributes significantly in keeping up the spirit of life.
If the sports organizations take an active role in peace building initiatives around the world, then the thousand of youth who are taking to guns in search of some heaven can perhaps drops the guns and take footballs.
Today, WHO (World Health Organization) has said that one of the biggest concerns that the world will see in the future is depression. Mental depression, stress, unethical and unhealthy behavior are all components of not being sportive in life; not being enthusiastic in life. So sports contributes to the happiness of society and to every individual life. And sportsmen are also role models and they are seen as larger than life by many people. Now if these role models do not keep up the ethical standards in their lives, it becomes such a disappointment for the rest of the population. Doping, match fixing, corruption and other such things should be done away with.
First corruption starts in a small way, then it become bigger and bigger, and then ends up in crime, and this is crime against society. Perhaps people who do this are not even aware that they are committing a crime. They think that it is just part of the acceptable norms of corruption. So we need to create this awareness in people that they are cheating a large population if they are doping, match fixing or involving themselves in any unethical activities in their lives.
It is just a matter of awareness. When we create such an awareness in society then sports can really become a source of inspiration. It is a source of inspiration today, and it should continue to inspire millions of people. It shoudl inspire people to find happiness and to instill ethical standards in their lives as well.
Sports is one field that not only unites people of all generations, languages, religions and social standards, but it can also work as a peacemaker in the world. If the sports organizations take an active role in peace building initiatives around the world, then the thousand of youth who are taking to guns in search of some heaven can perhaps drops the guns and take footballs. When the energy of the youth is channelized towards sports, then we can move away from violence and crime in society. This is something we all have to think about. The tremendous energy of the youth needs to be channelized towards something productive, and sports is the best option. What else could be better than sports?
Mental depression, stress, unethical and unhealthy behavior are all components of not being sportive in life; not being enthusiastic in life. So sports contributes to the happiness of society and to every individual life.
I feel, we have a responsibility to give an organizational framework on ethics for both the sportsmen and for those who love sports.
This can happen with three C's:
3. A Higher Context to Life. This is very important. See, a sportsman can handle his highs and lows successfully only when he has a bigger goal to latch on to. When a sportsman is given a mission to educate people or to serve the society, then that gives immense satisfaction to him. So engaging sportsmen in peace building initiatives and in social service activities to uplift the community outside of sports is important because it will bring that much needed continuity to their lives.
Whether one is an amateur in sports, or an accomplished sportsman, or a retired sports person, if they are engaged in service activities, then that sense of higher purposefulness will always be there. Otherwise I have seen many sportsmen getting depressed when they are out of the field. When they can no longer play they get into depression. So these kind of activities are important because it can help them get over such feelings as they have a higher mission in life.
Many of the sportsmen can work towards bringing ethics in sports, they can work towards glorifying sports in society and touching the lives of people with sports across the continents. They can work towards uniting people through sports, especially in areas of conflict.
I come from India, and no matter what the political equation between India and Pakistan, when it comes to sports there is a completely different spirit. The sportsmen from both countries play cricket with full enthusiasm. So sports has this magnetic quality in it to bring together people from various sections and backgrounds onto one platform and to make our world a better place to live in.
Engaging sportsmen in peace building initiatives and in social service activities to uplift the community outside of sports is important.
Happiness is a factor of life, and sports has a lot to contribute to it. Of course music, arts, science, etc., are other huge avenues that can enrich one's life, but sports plays an important role in bringing the much needed happiness in life. And this deliberation of The World Summit On Ethics In Sports can find itself as just the beginning. I think we need to take this across the globe and through-out the world and emphasize two things:
1. Fairness & ethical behavior in sports
2. Using the avenue of sports to further create happiness and peace in the world
Today, we are in a scenario where we are bothered and troubled by so much of violence and hatred. So if we can take this step, even in the field of sports violence can be reduced because we will have our goal constantly staring in our face, which is to create peace amongst people and communities.
Unfortunately I have to say that, today wars are fought like games and games are being fought like wars. This needs to change. I am sure that all the brilliant speakers in this assembly and all lovers of sports will come up with further deliberations of how we can take this message forward to every nook & corner of this planet.