Sports for character
The cover story this time is the
Annual Sports and Cultural Festival of the Sai educational
institutions that is celebrated every year on 11th January. This
is a gala event that commences at about 7 A.M. in the Hill View
stadium when Bhagavan comes in procession, led by Sai Geetha, the
Institute Brass Band, students bearing standards, etc. That is how
Darshan is given that morning. The stadium gets packed even before
sunrise, and it is truly a glorious sight.
But there is much
more to the festival than just the procession. When Baba reaches
the dias, He gets down and is escorted up to His seat, and that is
when the show gets on the road as they say. There is now a
wonderful march past, with almost all students of all campuses
taking part, smartly attired and all that. After that, the
Institute Flag is ceremoniously hoisted by the Revered Chancellor
who of course is Bhagavan Baba. The participants then take an oath
rather like athletes do during the Olympics, and after that the
proceedings get under way. In the morning, the three Campuses of
the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning take turns and
stage group items of various kinds that range all the way from
martial arts and cultural pageants to thrilling acrobatics and fun
items of the type one sees during carnivals. The afternoon session
is reserved almost exclusively for the children of the Primary
School, and invariably they steal the hearts of everyone.
Elsewhere, many photos are presented, giving you a glimpse of the
atmosphere. We also offer the thrilling story of what happened on
the morning of sports day 1999.
Now a few words
about the general atmosphere etc. Normally, a sports event is one
where participants compete with each other. Here, on the other
hand, there is co-operation rather than competition. This approach
is deliberate. These days, there is too much emphasis on
competition, forgetting the basic objectives of sports. Next, the
items are so organised that every student of the entire Institute
has some role or the other to play. While some are visible on the
ground offering displays of various kinds, others work silently in
the background as facilitators - there are so many chores that
need to be done behind the scenes, and these boys and girls
willingly do it.
How come they don't
want to be seen performing before the public and earn their
applause? The answer is simple. Every single student and staff
member is interested in only one thing - pleasing Swami, and for
this they are prepared to do anything. They realise that this
would mean that different people would have to do different chores
in keeping with their individual abilities and this everyone
cheerfully accepts. It is all so automatic here that few realise
how remarkable such co-operation is.
How come the boys
and girls are able to co-operate like this, submerging their
individual ego? The answer is simple - it is hostel life that
prepares them for such co-operation. In the Institute, hostel
residence is compulsory and few realise what an impact this makes
on the students. Elsewhere, college students can enjoy the luxury
of single rooms and cots to sleep on. Here, the boys and girls
live in dormitories, sharing the room with many and sleeping on
the floor. In every room the mix is carefully arranged, bringing
together students from different parts of the country, speaking
different languages, from different backgrounds, etc. Pretty soon
the room mates know how to mesh smoothly with each other. That is
what co-operation is all about, and Swami's students learn this in
a quite natural way. Indeed this co-operation is visible not only
on sports day but on every occasion when students have to work
together, for example during festivals or Grama Seva.
is a reason why I am mentioning all this. Time there was when
sports reminded one of character and other such values that one
cherished in life. Nowadays, sports has been transformed into
something else - it is mass entertainment, made possible with big
money. And there are all the attendant evils for everyone to see.
Once upon a time, cricket used to be considered a game of
gentlemen. Indeed it used to be said that the leaders of England
were made on the playing fields of Eton and Harrow besides which
there was the famous phrase - It's not cricket, meaning it is not
fair and a done thing. All that has gone and cricket now is not
only big money but seems plagued with scandals from time to time.
The attitude of spectators too has changed and the media is in no
small measure responsible for this. Where football is concerned,
there is worry about hooliganism every time a certain country
plays its rivals.
Some of you may
remember that recently we did a feature on The Unity Cup One-day
International Cricket Match. At the end of the match, during the
closing ceremonies, two important speeches were made, one by
Maestro Sunil Gavaskar who was the driving spirit behind the match
and the other by Clive Lloyd of the West Indies, who also took a
an active part in organising the match. Transcripts of those
speeches follow. Gavaskar said:
Bhagavan, the many
dignitaries here today, ladies and gentlemen!
me it is a unique privilege, to welcome all of you here at the Sri
Sathya Sai Hill View stadium. You have been a witness to a unique
match, a match where you saw two of the fastest scorers of one day
century, Sanat Jayasurya and Saheed Afridi, opening the batting
together. I can't think of many an occasion when you could find
these two fantastic players opening the batting together. And it
goes to show that through sport there can be unity amongst
theme of this game has been precisely that, to promote unity
amongst countries through sport, to get the countries to believe
in a sporting spirit, to play the game of life as a sport, where
there will be winners and there will be losers. But, at the end of
the day it is how you play the game which is very, very important.
delighted to welcome also some of the legendary figures of the
cricketing world here. To my right is Mr. Hanif Mohammed [of
Pakistan]. There have been plenty of little masters but the
original little master was Hanif saab! To Hanif's right is Zahir
Abbas a man whom Indian cricket lovers know quite a lot about. And
on to Bhagavan's right, is Clive lloyd, the West Indian captain,
the most successful captain in the history of the game. And to his
right is another left-hander, Alvin Kallicharan.
May I now request Mr. Clive Lloyd
to say a few words?
That was the speech
of Sunil Gavaskar, brief but just right for the occasion. Sunil is
not only a master batsman but very good at many other things, like
acting as master of ceremonies, for example. And now, let us what
Clive Lloyd said on that occasion.
Thank you Sunny.
Baba, Your Excellencies, fellow cricketers, ladies and gentlemen.
First I must tell you that I have a great affinity with India and
Indian cricket. My first test match was played in India, my first
test match as captain was also played in India. So, it should be
no surprise when I say that I have a great affinity with India.
Sunny asked me to be here for this game, I had to say yes.
Whenever he asks, it is a command performance!
am pleased to be here, to witness this great spectacle, to see
this wonderful stadium come to fruition, for which we have a lot
of people to thank. But I think it would be remiss of me to do so
because I might leave some names out. To all those people who have
been involved, I must say: you have done a marvellous job in a
very short time.
world of sports in a developing nation is an important conduit for
the positive energies of our youth. Sports teaches discipline.
Sports provides challenges. Sports creates opportunities. Sports
now transcends social borders and often provides the foundation
for wholesome human development.
all the young people here and all the aspiring young crickters, I
can say to you, you must know that you have been blessed with
special skills. Your talent is a gift from God, what you do with
that talent would be your offering to God and gift to humanity. Do
not take your abilities for granted. Use them to great advantage.
To do so, you must supplement your natural skills with education.
There is no substitute for education. A complete education, will
complement your cricketing skills, and provide you with a basis
for personal development. That in turn will enhance your career.
you might well know, 90 % of cricket at advanced levels is played
above the shoulders. It is one's mental approach and suitable
application to the game that separates the average player from the
his well known book, BEYOND THE BOUNDARY, historian C.L.R. James
wrote with deep conviction about the importance of mental
attitude. The successful man of the future will be a man of
intelligence, with an imaginative approach, combined with the
attribute of mental toughness, and the special ability to be
mentally prepared for situations, even before they develop.
closing, I will urge you all to improve every aspect of your game,
especially your education.
As someone once said, the only
place where success comes before work is in the dictionary! Thank
Sunil Gavaskar and
Clive Lloyd belong to the older generation. I wonder what the
stars of today would say when they retire and step down into
ordinary life. Right now, most of them seem to be too busy making
money. What a tragedy that almost everywhere in the world sport
has moved away from character building to money and fame, creating
problems all over, including with regard to security. But if there
is a Shangrila amidst all this it is here! We Hope you would
reflect on some of these issues even as you browse through our
feature on our Annual Sports day.
Radio Sai E-Magazine,
January 1, 2004