The SRT Project recently produced a report, Striving together: celebrating competitiveness in sport.
We often think of competitiveness as being mainly about “striving against” our opponent, but this report emphasises we also “strive together”. Sometimes that striving together is obvious- in team games, you work with your team mates. But even in games where only one player is on the court, there are people in the background who support them. When Andy Murray walks out onto the court, he knows that he has a physiotherapist, a coach, and many others, working to support him. Many of us who compete do so with the help of friends, family, coaches, etc, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.
In addition, from a spiritual perspective, it’s encouraging to see that the role of chaplains is being increasingly recognised as important in many professional football clubs, for example.
Just as we lose a lot if we think of competition only in terms of striving against our opponents, the way in which we view our opponent, and the ways in which we react to victory and defeat. It is important that we do our best to act graciously, respecting those with whom we compete.
The report includes aspects of how technology has influenced sport and competition. In some cases that’s pretty obvious- think of the changes in Formula 1 cars this year for example. However, even at the amateur level technology has an influence- the golfing equipment that many of us would use has evolved over the years as a result of technological improvements.
The use and abuse of drugs in sport is well documented, and as technologies improve we are moving closer to a point where “gene doping”, where athletes are able to manipulate their genetic make- up in order to improve their performance, may become a reality. This will present us with difficult ethical questions about how we prevent abuse of these technologies.
The report was debated at General Assembly in May 2014. You can download it here.