Need to reshape sporting culture

Need to reshape sporting culture
Children playing football at the Experience Sports Day Camp.

Nominated MP Benedict Tan has rightly questioned the motivations behind some of those who take up sports in Singapore, and highlighted worrying trends in the nation's sports culture ("More S'poreans engaging in sports regularly"; last Tuesday).

I too am concerned about the unhealthy sporting culture here, especially in our schools.

Watching my three boys playing sports competitively for their respective schools has made me wonder whether we are "using" or developing student athletes.

I say "use" because I know of cases where student athletes, who had gained admission to schools via the Direct School Admission route, trained hard to win medals for their schools at the expense of their studies.

But when they failed in their exams, they were told to leave.

What message does this send to the students?

Schools' obsession with winning medals will turn off those who simply want to enjoy sports. It is no wonder that many students leave school with a dislike for the sports they once enjoyed.

This aversion could lead to an inactive and sedentary lifestyle later in life.

The issue is systemic, as Dr Tan rightly pointed out, and requires a holistic approach to tackling it.

It requires efforts not just by the Ministry of Education, or Ministry of Health, but also the Ministry of Defence, as it has been reported that many young men shy away from physical training, and this could affect our national security.

To get students interested in sports, we should also engage the parents. We need to educate them on the value of sports to get their support.

There is much that needs to be done to reshape the sporting culture here, and parents, students, schools and the Government all have a part to play.

- Peter Chan Teng Hong

This article was first published on Jan 26, 2015.
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