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Can Sports Save Mankind?
For decades people have been singing “Give Peace a Chance” when they should have been saying “play ball” or “hut, hut, hike.” According to the United Nations, sports—football, soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, and the like—are “efficient tool[s] for development and peace.” Don’t buy the world a soft drink and teach them to sing. Instead, buy them a baseball glove and teach them how to throw a curve ball.
The U.N. says sports benefits humanity in four major ways: 1) improves health, 2) improves education, 3) encourages economic development, and 4) promotes peace.
Around 60 percent of adults do not get enough exercise for a healthy lifestyle. That’s a shame because the U.N. believes nearly two-thirds of deaths are attributed to non-communicable diseases that could have been prevented with more exercise and a healthier lifestyle. To put it another way, exercising, either at a gym or through playing a sport, could save 1.9 million lives a year.
Sports do more than teach children the values of pass blocking or the need to defend the pick-and-roll. Wilfried Lemke, special advisor to the U.N. on Sport for Development and Peace, says sports educate “children on leadership, foster role models, promote peace, and give children hope for the future.” A child won’t learn much math, any Shakespeare, or the date when the Magna Carta was issued, but they will learn other valuable skills like cooperation, communication, leadership, problem-solving, trust, and teamwork.
Encourages Economic Development
Worldwide, sports are a $620 billion industry. Better yet, this number grows between three and five percent a year. Sports inspire economic development through the manufacturing of sporting goods and creating jobs within the sporting industry. These jobs are not just as professional athletes but include manufacturing sporting goods, working at sporting events, and building sports venues.
Another way sports can influence the economy is by creating a healthier workforce. In 2000, physical inactivity was responsible for $75 million in medical costs in the U.S. To look at it another way, for every $1 spent on physical activity in United States more than $3 is saved in medical costs. In the Great White North, the World Health Organization says sufficient physical activity can save each Canadian worker $513 per year.
It’s starts seven-days before, continues through, and then ends seven days after they conclude. It’s known as “The Olympic Truce” and it can be traced all the way back to the 8th century B.C. and the ancient Greeks. Today, the truce calls on all the nations of the world to suspend wars, legal disputes, and death penalties during the Summer and Winter Olympics. It was ratified by the U.N. and its members in 1992.
Sports and peace don’t stop there. Twice, soccer has brought relief to war-torn nations. In 1969, Pele and his Brazilian Santos squad played a match in Western Nigeria. Embroiled in a civil war, the two sides called a 48-hour cease fire so the entire nation could peacefully watch the game.
In the early to mid-2000s, the Ivory Coast was mired in a civil war. When the team qualified for the 2006 World Cup, Ivory Coast superstar Didier Drogba insisted that the two sides quit their fighting and support the country’s soccer team. Drogba got his wish. The fractions put down their arms for a temporary armistice.
Clearly, people would rather see “battles” take place on pitches, gridirons, diamonds, and courts. Unfortunately, the leaders of the world don’t always see it that way.
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