In the twenty-first century, elements of local and international influence of a government are changing due to the advancement and spread of technology; a country’s competitiveness will depend on science, technology, and human-beings rather than on the possession of natural resources.
- Allowed the spread of values, agendas, and injustices that may have gone unnoticed.
- Prevented conflict at times and fueled confrontation at other times.
- Emphasized individualism and promised better life standards.
- Empowered global companies to innovate and attract talented youth.
- Created industries requiring a new skillset.
Governments are now under the pressure to deliver in a ‘smarter’ and more demanding world. Sports has a major role to play due to its many benefits:
Sports promotes tolerance among people of same and different societies.
Governments are investing heavily in arms and cyber security systems. They are also keen to break the vicious cycle of intolerance leading to conflict. Friendly sports matches reduce ethnic, gender, and cultural stereotypes and foster values of peace and co-existence.
Sports increases national pride during periods of wars or economic difficulty.
Governments are concerned about the possibility of violence due to poverty and distress. Sports invokes loyalty to one’s country as it creates fans for athletes, teams, and nations. For sanctioned or war-torn countries, sports also helps restore broken national identity and pride.
Sports improves workforce productivity and reduces national health bills.
The global competitiveness of a country depends on its population’s health. Sports participation improves health and reduces stress levels. Public health expenditures can then be channeled to improve the country’s general health sector.
Sports teaches the essential skills of tomorrow.
Professions of the future require soft skills that athletes acquire on the field. An athlete knows the values of teamwork, communication, and common goals as teams share challenges and victories. Moreover, sports increases perseverance, creativity, and leadership.
Sports creates hope and confidence especially among youth.
Today, it is difficult to be a young person. One has to be more educated and more competitive. A good sports match creates successful role models through athletes. An athlete is a symbol of hope because he has the courage to dream and change the status quo.
Sports boosts the status of countries on the international scene.
Sports can be an efficient international policy tool due to its attractive nature. Emerging superpowers still lag in soft-powers essential to influence and push their agendas. On the other hand, post-conflict countries can rely on sports to promote their image and attract economic aid and foreign investment especially after a period of extreme violence.
Major media and entertainment conglomerates have quickly spotted the opportunity in sports and increasingly own sports clubs. This ‘privatized’ sports policy will expand due to the global reach and power of these conglomerates.
As governments are re-thinking their policies focusing on science, technology, and innovation, sports can play a complementary and important role in achieving government agendas during this transitionary and somewhat chaotic period.
Sports can influence people in a positive way in times of uncertainty
In the world amid the pandemic, people are more than ever in need of leaders and hope. Thus, athletes and clubs can play a very important role by encouraging and inspiring their communities. We have seen countless examples of athletes using their impact on social networks to influence people, especially kids and teenagers, in a positive manner. Club as well can show social commitments by helping those affected by the pandemic. This is happening through donations of medical resources and healthcare supplies to local hospitals and facilities.
Besides leadership, there is another crucial role of sports during this global crisis. At a time when we must practice social distance, continuing to exercise has proved itself to be fundamental to our mental health, as sports can boost our mood while reducing anxiety and stress.
Sports role and meaning keep changing during these times, but there is one thing that is certain: sports are more than entertainment, they are a way to help, inspire, and educate people.