(The 2nd World Summit on Ethics & Leadership in Sports,at the FIFA Headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, was organized with the focus of bringing attention to the critical challenges related to sports governance such as match fixing, doping and human rights. The conference proceedings also highlighted the conferment of the Ethics in Sports Award, recognizing those who have demonstrated the importance of human values and ethics in life and in the sports arena. Below is the transcript of what Gurudev Sri Sri said at the event)
Good afternoon! It’s a pleasure to be with all of you here; with such great sports persons and with the lovers of sports.
A baby, even before it starts recognizing people and speaking, it starts playing. So sport is the first and foremost expression of life. In fact, I would say that sport is the purest expression of life, and so honoring sports is honoring our own source, and our own life. Today, when corruption and unethical practices have in-filtered sports on so many levels, it is high time we wake up and take the corrective measures.
Every village around the world has some or the other form of sports. In fact, even life should be taken sportively. If we don’t take life sportively, then there is a possibility of depression taking over life, and today that is one of the biggest issues in the world – people being depressed and engaging in violence. The way to remedy this is to engage people in creative and active sports, and not just computer games based on sports. This is a very important thing to do to maintain the health of society.
A baby, even before it starts recognizing people and speaking, it starts playing. So sport is the first and foremost expression of life.
Whether it is politics, economics, music, art, religion or sports, there is only one aim of all these avenues, and that is to bring happiness to the individual, to the environment, and to society. And sport is one of the most important tools to create happiness, harmony and well-being.
Today, when we are ridden with so many conflicts around the world, sports can be that one thing that can bring people together. Now if this very important aspect of life is infested with unethical behavior, it is a matter of big concern. I think we all agree on this! So, it is high time that we take note of this.
I am very glad that some very prominent people from Europe and the rest of the world have formed a think-tank here to guide the field of sports, and to encourage people to walk the path of ethics.
What is ethics? It is not doing to others what you don’t want others to do to you. This is the base line of ethics. You don’t want to be cheated, and so you should not cheat others. That is ethics. And in sports, when people are watching something to uplift their spirit, they believe in it, they have faith in it because it is the religion of the modern day. What is religion? It is something that brings hope and uplifts one’s spirit, and that’s what sports is today. And when the youth watch sports, they want to believe that what they are watching is correct. They would not like to see that they are being cheated, and that there is match-fixing happening at the back.
Actually, though these unethical events are very few, they are being highlighted by the media.
As we were earlier discussing, there are many sincere players all over the world and the ones who are crossing the line are very few. But it is these few who have grabbed the attention of the media and the public. In a way it is good because we correct that 5%-10% of wrong that is happening.
Coming back to ethics, we all need to think – what is it that we can do to fix this. And what is it that we can go to encourage more of the youth to engage actively in sports; especially in regions where there in conflict. Whatever be the reason of the conflict – whether it is socio-economic, religious, ethnicity, language, etc., in all these situations, sports can play a major role in uniting the hearts and minds of people. And for the players of sports, we need to take care of their mental, physical and emotional well-being. Here, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and encouragement towards developing a scientific temper can help sportspersons to sustain their energy.
You don’t want to be cheated, and so you should not cheat others. That is ethics.
There is another issue, which is of competition among the players. In the run for competition, there is a lot of anxiety, uncertainty, and fear of failure. Though these players are on the screen and people are watching them and clapping their hands, if you take a keen look at their faces, they don’t look exuberant, joyful and happy. It is our responsibility to bring that much needed happiness. We must not just bring happiness to the people who are watching but to the players as well – by instilling in them a sense of ease, a sense of comfort, and a sense of understanding that ‘sports is sports whether you win or lose – you still gain’.
I usually tell athletes that you have only two options – ‘Either you win or you make others win’. So if you have made another win then you should be happy. If sportsmen and sportswomen move ahead in life with this attitude, then they will not go through so much stress and they don’t need to go for drugs and other substances.
In India, in the ancient days, they always said that ‘Life is a game, don’t take it too seriously’. So have fun in life; whether failure or success, treat it equally. When you fail, that is a stepping stone to success. And when you succeed, then you need to think about how others feel when they fail.
Once, a little boy lost a running race and he was upset. I asked him, “Why are you sad?” He said, “I lost my race”.
I said, “Look, you lost the race, but the person who won the race, isn’t he your friend?’ He said, “Yes, he is”.
I told him, “Are you not happy that your friend has won? Suppose you won the running race, and your friends were unhappy that you won the race, would you like it?” He said, “No”.
I said, “Then why are you not happy when your friend has won?”
This one question made this little boy think differently, and he said, “I never thought of it like that before. I would not like my friends to be unhappy if I win”.
In a game, somebody is going to win, but that somebody’s win should be a celebration for everybody. If that is not the spirit, then it is not a game, it is a war, or business. So infusing this spirit in sports is important to uplift human consciousness. If this is not there, then we are missing something that is basic to sports.
I usually tell athletes that you have only two options – ‘Either you win or you make others win.
Sports has this special dimension that – you can be happy just by playing, keeping aside the results. There result is not as important as the process, as how well you have played your role.
The same is with a drama or a movie, whether you are a villain or a hero, who wins is immaterial, what matters is how well you have played your role. That is what makes a movie a good movie.
Similarly, in games, your participation is most important, rather than the end result of a game. If we can bring this message loud and clear to the youth, then most of the soccer games around the world will have lesser violence, lesser problems and lesser work for the police forces.
Somehow the feverishness of winning has gripped the arena of sports which has become the cause of disturbance world over. You know, even between countries; when one country wins the other country gets so upset, and in some cases there is even a riot. These sort of things can be avoided if the true essence of sports is brought to light which is – to uplift the spirit and unite people and have happier societies.
With these few words I once again congratulate all of you who have been putting your heart and soul into this field. May truth prevail and may happiness be the language of today and tomorrow.