Monica Islam (Bangladesh) on How Playing is Winning!

August 1, 2012

The twenty-first century has witnessed digital technology making great strides and connecting people with popular social networking sites and affordable cell-phones. Countries, such as Egypt and Libya, have enthralled the world with their united stance against dictatorship. However, the twenty-first century has also been marred by intolerance, which resulted in decades of war and a feeling of insecurity and disunity. Nature unleashed several disasters—perhaps, in response to years of neglect and abuse meted out by humans on the environment—which eventually led to the scarcity of resources and global warming. In a chaotic world such as this, the three Olympic values—excellence, friendship, and respect—hold promise of carving a better twenty-first century!
The Olympic Games make notable achievements through a medium that appeals to most—sports. It encourages fitness on a grand level by providing an international platform for athletes, irrespective of race, religion, sex, or nationality. It fosters cultural exchanges by allowing host nations to showcase their languages and traditions. In ancient times, the event was even considered a symbol of peace, as all wars were suspended during the games. The Olympic Rings represent unity of the five continents. The Olympic Charter addresses issues pertaining to education, ethics, development, tolerance, participation of marginalized communities, and environment. What can be better examples of excellence, friendship, and respect, if not these?

The impact of the Olympic values could be expanded. As a first step, exclusive broadcasting and advertising rights must be granted to companies committed to meaningful, long-term social responsibility. Emphasis must be laid on social marketing. For instance, there could be jerseys, badges, and other materials, which reflect the Olympic values. Profits generated by the Olympic Games must be invested in social enterprises—even those which are not associated with sports.

Additionally, there seems to be a divide between the impoverished or even the slightly well-off ordinary people and the sometimes ostentatious Olympic Games. It would be wise, therefore, to sponsor or to invest in start-ups rather than large companies. The Olympic Fund could be created. And an Olympic Research Centre or Olympic University could not only increase the research and training in sports, but also provide superior education in other academic disciplines and impart moral lessons.

2 Timothy 2:5 – “And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”

During the Games themselves, there could be a few minutes of reading from philosophical texts to encourage tolerance, to highlight the intersection of sports and philosophy, and to emphasize on the three Olympic values.

Finally, the International Olympic Committee must advocate for a fair participation of women. It should increase the number of sports where men and women compete together. This will allow women to have a fresh outlook on their strength and to reach for greater heights. A similar pilot-project could be initiated for the physically challenged. The Olympic Transition could provide facilities, such as training, to support this endeavor.

This is a win-win deal—play to make an impact!
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