When I began writing Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games, it was with a sense of urgency for the culture of this country, and indeed the world. To me, the originating thought about sport was an “us versus them” paradigm of competition rather than a cooperative “to work with” definition. With the Christmas season and December 21, 2012 as the backdrop for the Newtown tragedy, the time has come to reconsider our motives for almost everything.
I take inspiration from A Course in Miracles, which implores us to “Be not content with littleness.” The violence we continually see “out there” is a big thing, and it will take a force much bigger to address it. That force is the human spirit. Guns can kill flesh. Guns cannot kill the spirit. We can debate guns and money and lobbies and fearful people wanting to preserve physicality, but the elephant in the room remains this power of the human spirit. The Course in Miracles says, “Peace is impossible to those who look on war….Peace is inevitable to those who offer peace.” So here is my offering of peace in the season where we welcome the Prince of Peace into the world.
Sportuality redefines “competition” as “to work with” rather than “against.” Almost every violent act we see within sport has an enemy…the other…someone to be eliminated as a threat to one’s being. It is easier to have a debate about guns or the lack of mental health care in this country than it is to examine what is happening in our own hearts, where peace begins. That said, I have been fortunate to connect with three different resources that can help us do just this: The Fetzer Institute, The Rasur Foundation, and The Institute of HeartMath.
The Fetzer Institute is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan with a mission statement that is simple yet profound and transformative: “Engaging with people around the world to foster awareness of the power of love, forgiveness and compassion in our global community.” One of the areas of focus is Sport and Embodied Spiritual Practice; where Sportuality’s message resonates.
The Rasur Foundation was founded in Costa Rica by Rita Marie Johnson and envisions a world where every person practices peace and passes this gift on to the next generation. Their mission is “To teach BePeace to individuals of all ages in order to build the social and emotional skills needed for peace.” BePeace is “a synergistic skill set for building social and emotional intelligence.” Everywhere in a child’s life, and indeed anyone’s life, there is room for more peace. This is a valuable skill that will enhance lives as it spreads throughout the international community as well as the United States.
The Institute of HeartMath “is an internationally recognized nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to helping people reduce stress, self-regulate emotions and build energy and resilience for healthy, happy lives. HeartMath tools, technology and training teach people to rely on the intelligence of their hearts in concert with their minds at home, school, work and play.” The following video describes the impact of HeartMath on sport performance:
And I highly recommend this video with scientist and author Gregg Braden as he talks about the greater impact of HeartMath on the course of human history:
Sportuality, the book, includes “Time Outs” where you the reader might take time to reflect on an entire chapter or a specific point in the chapter. Take a time out now to consider how we currently use sport to justify anger, judgment, violence, and war-like thinking of win-lose, or even lose-lose in our culture. We cannot have a debate about gun culture without looking deeply at all situations where violence exists. Sport is becoming increasingly violent – Look at “The Big Four” for starters – MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL. Then look at college sports, high school sports and even youth sports – at players, parents, coaches, and fans. If the message we want our children to hear and see is one of peace, we must address the violent nature of our national recreation and entertainment. Sport CAN be a source of peace and goodwill. The HBO series Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel inspires with Sportual stories – stories that expose injustice and violence, stories with meaning, true stories of the human spirit. So what is YOUR Sportual story, and how can it help move this national conversation in a positive direction? Game on.