The excitement and the drive I get from sports is unparalleled to anything else in my life. Much of who I am today I owe to experiences I had through sport. Going to a school whose motto is “I have run the race, I have kept the faith,” I think I’ve done just that.
I’ve been fortunate enough to compete at the provincial level on numerous occasions, all the while being actively involved at my local church. But like anything else in life, success in sports comes with a price. The higher you go and the older you get, the more demands sports put on your time and energy.
Countless times I’ve watched my family rush frantically to get to Mass between swim meet sessions, or, at out-of-town meets, see them scouring the phone book of a hotel room trying to find a local church.
I’ve completed so many assignments while fighting to stay awake, exhausted from cross-country practice. I’ve had to make up countless tests, writing frantically so as not to fall further behind in all the work I missed.
Sports, though rewarding, can take a toll on so many other aspects of your life.
The often very competitive mindset that goes with sports can often go hand in hand with arrogance, selfishness and callousness. It’s sometimes difficult to keep Catholic virtues in mind when under immense pressure to succeed.
This is not to say that success isn’t good. But when it becomes the sole motivation of why you do sports, when in the pursuit of winning you forgo all else, it becomes a problem.
Success is so fickle. I’ve gone home after a competition with tears streaming down my face, not because I’d done badly but because I hadn’t performed the way I’d wanted to.
Yes, I do well in sports. But when school started getting the better of me, I had to make some tough calls. Cut back on sports, get a job, try to miss less school. I have had to learn to swallow my pride and accept the fact that I can’t do everything.
What I love about sports most is that there are so many possibilities for improvement and enjoyment. Whether it be a team sport or an individual event, it is a group of people bonding together with a common purpose.
When a group clicks, marvellous things happen. Competitions are won, friendships are made, leadership develops and they become a source of inspiration for the people around them.
Seeing this in action and being part of it has taught me compassion, selflessness, moderation, respect and humility — virtues I hope I can bring to all other aspects of my life.
(Barber, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)