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10 reasons why sports as a profession is not for the faint-hearted

Analysing why sports is not for the faint-hearted - something for those considering sports as a profession.

Feature 02 Nov 2017, 13:21 IST

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Sports in any form is not meant for the faint-hearted. It never was and never will be. I have been wanting to do this piece for quite a long time after a fair bit of understanding of how sportsmen work at it or get made for the stern tests ahead of them.

#1 Modern sports is gruelling physically

It is definitely getting more physical out there. It is no longer just about talent but also as much about the physical fitness part. Sportsmen follow a stringent physical fitness regimen that requires them to be physically fit right through their professional career. So you will find players and sportsmen hitting the gym with a vengeance. Believe me, I have seen players quite literally abuse their bodies till the point when the body says no. It is almost to the point where breathing becomes difficult. Sports and the desire to excel in the chosen field has become that demanding.

#2 Each day is tough

Ask a Sportsman and he will tell you, how each day is challenging. When a sportsman gets up in the morning, his limbs ache, the body feels like stone refusing to move an inch, revolting each second. This is the point where the mind takes over. It's always the mind versus the body. The body will say: "take it easy, sleep for some more time"; the mind will have its clock adjusted to that daily workout. Then there is the strict food diet that he/she would need to strictly adhere to. It will always be the case that you have given up on all your favourite binges and snacks to remain physically fit. Each day there is a new challenge in front of the sportsman, and each challenge needs to be overcome.

#3 Sports is very time consuming

Sportsmen put in years of hard work into their chosen profession. There is every possible chance that his hard work pays off but there is the likelihood of failure. A wannabe sportsman has to definitely take time into consideration. He needs to be more planned in his approach. He needs to have clearly defined milestones in front of him. He needs to have his short terms and long-term goals clearly articulated in his mind. There has to be a Plan A and a Plan B in place. Plan A has to be to reach the pinnacles of glory. Plan B has to take over in case he does not succeed with Plan A, that is to say, what does he have in his mind as an alternative career. Both plans are in the large interest of the time and effort that gets consumed.

#4 Fear of failure

Over a sportsman's head hangs the fear of failure. Sports is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Once you have decided to take up sports as a profession, there should not be any kind of looking back. The moment there are cobwebs in his mind or the fear of failure, then that is the beginning of the end. If you take the life of any successful sportsman, they come in with tonnes of self-confidence and passion. Ability or skill is something that gets developed over the years backed by a good coach. Fear of failure is something that the sportsman has to fight it out himself. This is something that needs to root out in the early stages of his career.

#5 Worry about competition

Competition is something that will be there in every chosen field. It is the same case when it comes to sports. However at the International level competition gets even tougher. I never used to think that there would be a day that man would run the 100 meters in under 10 seconds. So we are. Will there be a day when he runs it under 9 seconds? Maybe there will be, provided there is that hunger to succeed and that deep passion to perform fearlessly regardless competition. In fact, the true success of a sportsman comes about when he benchmarks his performance against his competitors to start with and then when he outdoes everyone else, the only competition that remains is himself.

#6 Public glare and media attention

People think that there are so many privileges that a sportsman is entitled to. A famed sportsman is definitely celebrated but once he fails he is subject to all the criticism, brickbats and the public scrutiny. It is definitely not easy when you realize as a sportsman that each of your steps is being watched, each word you speak is being analysed and each of your performance is being critiqued. Once you set a certain standard the fan community, the media and the public, in general, will expect that each time you step on the field the sportsman will don Superman's cloak and perform with clockwork precision. The moment he steps out with his family or otherwise, he is surrounded by his fan following, there is never really a moment of privacy.

#7 Internal support system

This varies from country to country, culture to culture. In India, for instance, the focus is always on the need to have a solid background in education. That is priority number one. Everything else including sports is only secondary. There is this feeling that a good educational background guarantees a promising career. Thus if there is a lack of support from the family, a promising talent in sports is already nipped in the bud. It is said that a successful sportsman is sometimes exposed to varied mood swings, especially when the chips are down. Thus the role that family and friends play at the peak of a sportsman's career becomes equally important.

#8 Injuries become common

All Sportsman are definitely hit by injuries at different stages in their career. It happens with each and every sportsperson. The kind of injury and the seriousness of the injury varies from person to person. Some injuries are career threatening while others are minor. Some require surgeries to cure followed by postoperative corrections or physiotherapy. Some take even a few months to cure while others in a few weeks. If you are worried about getting injured then sports is definitely not for you. When I first stepped on to a cricket field I was told not be worried about being hit by a cricket ball. You have to learn to treat injuries as a part of the game.

#9 Innovation is the name of the game

A sportsman can never be satisfied with his art. He has to constantly reinvent himself. He has to learn and unlearn on a daily basis. I have seen successful sportsmen do this on a regular basis. The reason for doing this is quite simple. With technology in place and where it is, the sportsman is constantly under the scanner, each of his moves is being watched and each skill analyzed. Thus it has become imperative for the sportsman to reinvent himself each day. You may fail quite a few times in the process but the chances of discovering something new and innovative is what drives or fuels the sportsman.

#10 Sports can be very cruel and unrewarding in the initial stages

It is not that a sportsman is born famous. He only acquires it over a period of time after years of practise, acquiring skills and experience. It is thus that the initial years of struggle becomes the formative years. There is a lot to be picked up in the early years. Patience to deal with people, with the long wait to make it big. Ther will be local team selection politics that sometimes may work in the sportsman's favour or may go against him as well. It may take years to get noticed but if the talent is for sure then it will never go unheeded. The interim period can lead to a lot of phycological scars, frustration and stress. A successful sportsman is one who comes through this tumultuous time unscathed yet enriched.

I am not for one suggesting that a talented sportsman who is reading this article to get disheartened after reading this piece. I am just trying to set expectations right. Sometimes a successful sportsman is also a vociferous reader. You must have access to all the success stories. You must have an inspiration or a mentor to follow, whose career you can set yourself as an idol to follow. Above all be aware of the pitfalls not scared by them, by this awareness I will see you right at the top.

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