Monday, August 2, 2010

Should Singapore's Sports System be Revamped?

Most of us have at least heard of the much publicized brawl between ACSI and St. Andrews during the aftermath of a rugby championship match, which left a 1 badly beaten up. This issue has caused quite a stir in Singapore and resulted in an inspection of Singapore sports safety system, which is what I will speak to you about today.

I have to say, this has been a rather highly contested topic since the unfortunate incident which occurred during after a close rugby match between St. Andrews and Anglo-Chinese (Independent). I feel that though the incident was regrettable, I still maintain that present safety standards of sports in Singapore are more than sufficient and that the accidents simply couldn't have been prevented. Furthermore, I believe that the “wining by hook or by crook” mentality is not to blame and that competition is healthy and necessary in sports.

Critics of the present safety standards of sports in Singapore claim they lead to needless injuries, stating the post-game tussle in which St. Andrews and Anglo-Chinese (Independent) students engaged as a prime example. However, did you know that out of the 54 games of the B Division Rugby Championship this year, merely 2 incidents involved injuries? That’s a safety record of over 96%! The same generally goes for other sports. Ask yourself, when was the last time you’ve seen a news article on ugly behavior besides the recent duo? Furthermore, according to an reporter covering rugby championships, since 2007, there hasn’t been a single instance of such incidents up till now? Without a shadow of a doubt, this proves current safety standards are more than sufficient as those 2 incidents were isolated. For parents or teachers to say that because of these 2 incidents, the safety regulations in Singapore are not enough is making a mountain out of a mole hill and wholly unwarranted. After all, there is no completely fool-proof regulation. If there were, wouldn’t the Singapore Government, no, the WHOLE WORLD have implemented it? We are humans after all and we are imperfect. However, I am proud to say that our almost spotless record speaks for itself. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that the Singapore Sports Council does not come up with its own rules and regulations any-o-how but adheres to strict, international guidelines subjected to high rigor. Introducing uncalled for reforms into our system would only serve to foul things and be counter-productive.

As if you needed more proof, Mr. Ang Chuen Teck, who has not 1, not 2, but 3 young children who compete in somewhat “violent” sports, squash and wrestling, said he was concerned about injuries at first, but his children have since learnt to minimize injuries: 'They learnt this with the help of their coaches. So education is very important.' As you can see, professional coaches who comply with the current safety standards in Singapore are able to educate the students on strategies on how to keep safe. Even a parent with 3 children in rough sports can rest his mind and is able to trust Singapore’s sports safety regulations. What more any other parent?

Also, concerned parents and teachers alike have alleged that Singapore’s Co-Curricular Activity system is inadequate and encourages competiveness, causing players and coaches alike to become fixated on medals and fail to develop sportsmanlike behavior and lose graciously, determined to win at any cost. This is misleading. Competition is necessary for advancement, for mankind to improve itself. It is the basis of all human progress. Through our resolve to outdo others, to strive for the best, we evolve and progress. Without competition in sports, there would be no need for anyone to try their best. Why would you? It wouldn’t matter a single bit if you did your best or your worst. Sports would be boring and spectators non-existent. There would be no World Cup, NBA, inter-school competitions etc. However, with competition, sports get a whole lot more exciting. Players long to get the gold medal and train long and hard to bring glory to their school. Through this perseverance to do your best and win, the players constantly raise the bar on sport standards and force themselves to surpass human limitations.

As for the concern raised that there is a lack of sports regulations to regulate unsportsmanlike behavior, as I have mentioned earlier, incidents of displays of unwanted behavior are few and far in between. Again, this re-iterates the point that current safety measures are ample. In addition, there are measures taken by the Singapore Sports Council to discourage “hitting below the belt” and over competiveness. They are known as referees and umpires. If an immoral soccer player tackles another violently or trips the opponent on purpose, the referee would tweet his whistle and flash a yellow card. Again and the dreaded red card pops out. This would serve as a distinct warning to players about trying to cheat or otherwise take advantage, dampening their unethical efforts. Furthermore, it is false that coaches and players only care about winning and think that the ends justify the means. My friend told me his tennis coach has a motto: Do your best, ignore the rest. He always give my friend's team the fullest support I can, whether they win or lose, as long as they have tried their best.

You may be wondering, if it isn’t the sports regulations that are responsible for the rare occurrences of such injuries, then what is? I’ll tell you: the schools themselves. Singapore Rugby Union president Mr. Low Teo Ping said: Many schools tend to fast-track their students by placing them in competitions without developing their cognitive skills or their muscles. This leads to injuries.” I wholly agree with Mr. Low. The issue is not that existing safety measures are not satisfactory; rather, it is the schools that are responsible for these recent incidents of injuries as they do not prepare their sportsmen adequately. They take the shortcut by not working on strong foundations such as muscle building and understanding of preventive measures with regard to sports injuries. Therefore, to merely review safety standards is worthless; the schools are the ones who ought to take action, or be taken action against. Schools also lack the education of sports athletes regarding how to control one’s emotions when a game is lost. The fight between St. Andrews and ACS (I) broke out as they weren’t able to control their feelings concerning the close match. Hence, they resorted to underhanded tactics like fists and punches. The importance of teaching students on how to manage their emotions is all too clear for all to see. Again, implementing new measures into the existing sports safety rules wouldn’t help in the least if the schools do not act themselves.

In conclusion, I hope that all of you understand that is not the fault of the lack of current safety standards that caused the much-publicized incidents. They are more than necessary. Neither is the “win-at-any-cost” mindset liable as competition is essential for advancement and should not be lessened. The schools are the ones who need to play their part in educating the students both physically and mentally.

DON'T GO YET!!! This is just my opinion? What's yours? Feel free to comment below......


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