I love sports. And by that, I do not mean loving what they show on tv, though I like that too. What I really love is how you try to win, always. Love it when you win, love the rush when you're in the middle of the game, the focus in the game that takes you away from any and every concern you have in your life. It simply rejuvenates you like nothing else.
I have been playing badminton on and off since I can remember. Don't even remember the first time I picked up a racquet. We used to have these small wooden racquets for kids back then, when I was in the 1st or 2nd std. As a kid, you are always fascinated by anything and everything that elders do. My uncle used to play badminton everyday. I used to accompany him sometimes to the club and wait for everyone to finish playing, after which he would play a couple of points with me. That is how I learnt it.
I continued playing with my sister till about my 7th or 8th std. But I wasn't regular at it. It used to always depend on my mood. I had too many other distractions, I suppose. I had to watch cartoons on tv, had to play other kiddie games like aeroplane, country-country, hide and seek, pitto (seven stones), and many others. I don't even remember half the names anymore. Then, there were so many games I tried in school. We used to learn some new game every year. So, I have actually played cricket, basketball, volleyball and hockey. Out of these, I was best at volleyball and the worst at hockey.
At the time, everything was for fun. It wasn't a means to an end. It was there in the school curriculum, so I did it. But, I'm grateful to my school for there being so many things to try your hand at. I wasn't very good at any of them and I think that was mainly because I was more keen on being at the top of my class in academics, than take up any of the games seriously. But nevertheless, it used to be a lot of fun.
But somewhere down the line, after my 10th std., I stopped playing altogether. And, I didn't really miss it. That may be because of all the coaching classes that the 11th std students go to. Even in college, when I actually had the time to go and play, I didn't.
When I joined IISc and saw the badminton courts, I had this sudden urge to pick up a racquet again, play again. It was then that I realized how much I had missed it. It simply felt too good to play again.
As kids, you don't have too many worldly concerns. When you play something, it is only for fun, and nothing else. But now, I understand that sports is fun as well as a great way to recharge yourself for all the challenges that lie ahead. That 1 hr of physical activity can do wonders for you that nothing else can. There is definitely the usual aspect of you becoming healthier, having a great appetite, having more stamina that comes with every exercise you do. But there are some things that you can only feel, things that may not be evident to everybody immediately. You feel a lot fresher, mentally. You become more cheerful and optimistic about everything, and that is even if you lose all the games (which does happen sometimes, and you mustn't take them seriously).
I think one can draw out many analogies from sports into life. Playing a game teaches you that even when you are down by several points, you can still win the game if you have determination, and the belief that you definitely can win, if you try hard enough. On the other hand, it also teaches you that if you suddenly become overconfident just because you have the match point, you can lose. It teaches you that if you lose a game, it doesn't matter, as there are more games yet to be played and you will win the next one. It teaches you that patience and determination pays off at some point of time.
But, you will really understand these things only when you start playing. So, I urge everyone to pick up some sport. Don't just be a passive sports lover, be an active one. Play it and see for yourself how it changes you. It is definitely something you will love.
P.S. This post turned out to be a little preachy!