Life is a Sport

Life is a Sport. I mean this not only figuratively, but also literally. It is my contention that life itself is an actual sport, a sport designed by nature and governed by the rules of physics, chemistry and biology. We are the players in the game and like any sport, there is a beginning and an end.

Failure to comply with the rules established by nature leads to hardship and severe consequences, but if you play this game according to the rules, you will be well rewarded.

So who am I? I am a philosopher, a scientist, a naturalist and an athlete engaged in the sport of life. In business I operate an online school as a naturopath that teaches the virtue of optimum health and how to achieve it through nutrition and exercise.

I grew up in Alberta and British Columbia playing all the sports that Canada had to offer. You name it and I played it competitively. Hockey, soccer, football, lacrosse, basketball, baseball, track and field, archery, wrestling, table tennis and the list goes on.

But unlike the majority of athletes I encountered, I never played to win, only to express my capacity for learned skill and the joy of actually performing. For me just playing the game for fun regardless of outcome was more than enough.

Read any official rule book on any major sport. The objective of any sport is not to win, but to play according to the rules and to score as many points as possible.

After the game has ended the team or individual with the most points, the fastest time or the longest throw is declared a winner. The distinction is subtle but enormously substantial. The focus is on the game, not the win.

Today I compete as a Masters hammer thrower, which is one of the most difficult sports I’ve ever played.

The hammer is incredibly complex and technical. It has roots that go back 4000 years to the Tailteann Games in Ireland. Legend has it that a Keltic hero gripped a chariot wheel by its axle, whirled it around his head, and threw it farther than anyone else.

Wheel hurling it was called.

Wheel hurling was eventually replaced by throwing a boulder attached to the end of a wooden handle, and once the Iron Age was born, it soon evolved into Sledgehammer throwing in Scotland.

The modern hammer used in track and field today, is comprised of a solid iron ball attached by a swivel to a meter long spring steel wire and a medal handle that is held with both hands. The hammer has been an Olympic sport since 1900.

I just returned from the Isle of Skye in Scotland. I went there to search for some of the missing pieces I need to complete my own biological puzzle, to help solve the mystery of my heritage and true identity.

I discovered that throwing the hammer runs much deeper than simply winding, turning and releasing an implement to see how far I can throw it. For me the hammer is all about the freedom that I experience when I become one with it.

The French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre once said that “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”

The origin of Sport as an invention of man is as old and ancient as man himself. How old is human kind? How old is nature? That is the true age of sport.

In 380 BC the Greek philosopher Socrates said, “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

In 350 BC his most famous student Plato said, “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save and preserve it.”

And finally, Plato’s most famous student and my favorite above all, the Father of logic, Aristotle, he stated the following in 300 BC, “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.”

Ladies and gentleman, Sport as an ideal provides no better method to gain victory over self.

If you look up “sport” in Webster’s New World dictionary, it’s first defined as “any activity or experience that provides enjoyment or recreation” and then goes on to include activity combined with physical exertion. It also mentions both fun and play as vital components.

Sport as a derivative of Middle English and translated from Old French means pleasure or to divert. Sport was utilized by men and women to distract them from the hardships of life.

It provided entertainment and created a physical means of enjoyment to help people cope with the burden of living, and sport can still do that for anyone today who’s willing to try.

Watching and playing sport has become a national pastime for millions of people of all ages. It’s also a huge business that involves governments and some of the world’s largest corporations.

So why do so many of us love to watch sport? Why do we elevate athletes to a status equal to that of a King? Is it because sport embodies what being Superhuman is really all about?

Sport was created by man as a means of getting physical and as an object of philosophical idealism to set a universal standard of good sportsmanship.

The ancient Greeks said that sport represents all that is good in man as an ideal and all that is reprehensible. We love sport because it reveals our true character as humans. Sport doesn’t build character, it reveals it.

Sport is the great equalizer. It’s able to siphon out from the illusion of our consciousness that great truth everyone wants and needs. In fact the sport we love and choose as our favorite is a mirror that actually reflects our deepest desires and fears.

Of course the contrary is also true. The sport we reject or think of with the most disdain, is a reflection of what we reject in our society and in our life.

Sport has deep philosophical and scientific roots. Charles Darwin, who published On The Origin of Species in 1859, used the term ‘Sports’ to represent his notion of spontaneous change. Today that same idea is recognized as mutation, a critical variant in natural selection and evolution.

Herbert Spencer, the English philosopher, biologist and anthropologist, coined the term “Survival of the Fittest”.

In evolutionary biology the term fitness describes the ability of a species to survive long enough to pass on its genes to its offspring and for them to do the same.

But in a more practical sense, fitness relates to our potential to perform. In fact our capacity to perform physically is recognized as an independent risk factor for both morbidity and mortality. Like cholesterol, fitness can be measured.

Fitness is a cornerstone of health.

Is the desire to play sport embedded in our DNA? Perhaps it’s a meme, as coined by biologist Richard Dawkins. A meme is a cultural unit of behavior or belief transferred from generation to generation.

Humans are hard wired for spontaneous change, but instead of resisting change, as many of us do, we need to embrace it, we need to practice sport for its own sake, because sport is all about personal challenge and spontaneous change.

Embracing SPONTANEOUS CHANGE is a huge part of being Superhuman!

It takes courage to break away from outdated conventions that are clearly opposed to our quality of life. Courage is non-conformity. It is that state of mind that enables us to face danger and to overcome fear with confidence and bravery.

Without courage we cannot apply wisdom or stand for justice.

Like the courage to workout on a regular basis, to eat clean whole foods without compromise and to play sport year round for the exclusive benefit of personal health and wellness, especially mental and emotional health.

Should we follow the herd, or should we rely on reason and critical thinking to construct an objective paradigm of life that creates optimum health and wellness as an outcome?

Sport should be played with passion and pride. This is essential to our self-esteem. When we do the right work that sport requires before and after the game, our performance and health always improves.

Yes coaching and equipment and opportunity are important, but no one can do the work for us. Personal trainers don’t lift the weights for us. If they did we could never improve or benefit. No my friends. We ourselves have to show up and work in the shadows without a spotlight. That’s how reality works.

We have to apply self-discipline and push ourselves towards growth and personal achievement. But it’s not about winning. It’s about overcoming ourselves and discovering what we are truly gifted with; what our capacity for change is and what we are truly made of.

Our youth are the stock of the new tomorrow. To save them from themselves, we have to drive the importance of movement, physical activity, exercise and sport into their hearts and minds from birth.

It has to become second nature.

Every lesson learned in the gym or on the field can be transferred into the arena we call life. The function of sport is to act as a biological conduit for our ethos, to utilize sport as a model of the highest good that humans can achieve.

And above all, we need to express ourselves physically more than ever today. We live in a world dominated by machines. Manual labor will soon be a thing of the past and for many of us, it already is.

But the science of living well teaches us that our physical bodies need physical stimulation. Inactivity is the new smoking. Without load against resistance in motion, our muscles weaken and die. The technical term is disuse atrophy. The medical term for the net effect is Sarcopenia.

We must use our body as it is clearly designed to do to prevent the chronic disease that is currently plaguing our society.

I live by a simple motto.

If you live hard, you die soft. Now what does that mean?

It means that if you put out physically and surpass your own limits, you can live longer and feel better. Yes it requires effort, and yes you have to take some risks. But the dividends are enormous beyond belief.

Imagine just for a moment, a life free of chronic disease and disability.

Living hard means you do the work that needs to be done before you pick up your paycheck. It means you measure progress in the currency of sweat and it also means you’re not afraid to challenge yourself or rock your own boat.

Now what does it mean to die soft? It means you hit the wall at the end of a functional full life quickly and without effort. It also means you don’t die a slow, miserable death that causes pain and hardship not only for you, but for everyone else around you.

Ladies and gentleman, Life is a Sport, its objective is to succeed at being well. So I ask you now. Do you want to live hard and die soft, or live soft and die hard? Your destiny depends on how you answer, because fate my friends, is what we make.

As always...Stay Well and Live Free!