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story | Jonas Yun Do Ung, Guest Contributor
photo | Kah Mun Chan
As I write this article, it is 3:30 A.M. on a Thursday morning and I am still recovering from a flu I caught during the National University of Singapore Inter Faculty Games (NUS IFGs). I presume that I caught my flu due to overexertion, as my team and I had played five matches against all-time favorites like the Medicine and Business teams from 12 P.M. till 9 P.M. that day. Still feeling sick, I have already missed a few days of classes, and I am behind schedule for many of my readings and assignments. The situation is only exacerbated by the fact that I am also a senior with the looming specter of an existential crisis, as well as anxiety about my future.
By now, I am feeling drowsy, but I cannot yet go to sleep. I grab yet another cup of coffee. I have a writing assignment on Virginia Woolf. I have to write my capstone proposal. I have to do my annotations for readings.
I am on a highway without a speed limit, without rest areas.
With a tinge of nostalgia, I browse through the pictures taken during the game. Seeing my teammates, I smile. I don’t know how or why, but after all this agony and stress, and the ash of regret in my mouth, somehow it feels like it was all worth it. That one victory, – our first victory in five years, – had come at a cost of countless losses. While we have welcomed so many new hopefuls, we also have had to say goodbye to many disillusioned players over the years.
After my admittedly overly-sentimental Facebook status posted on the night of our win, many people misunderstood that our Frisbee team had come in first place for the IFGs this year, instead of merely claiming one victory out of five games. In fact, by the end of the IFGs, we were still one of the lowest-ranked teams overall.
To be frank, our little achievement does not deserve to be celebrated by the entire school body. In hindsight, I feel both embarrassed and regretful that I was so emotional about this one small victory that honestly came at such a great cost to my academic performance and health. What had triggered this well of emotions? Why is this funny business of sport (and my team) so important to me? Why do I believe that it is all worthy of the sacrifices I had made?
Ultimately, it boils down to the simple fact that Frisbee is so much fun. When I run like a dog for that flying disc in the air, I have no doubt that what I am doing is right. It provides temporary relief from all the anxieties I harbor as an adult still in the making.
I also cannot deny that I love my teammates and our school a little too much. I have not yet met people who are more optimistic, caring, and delightful than this lovely family of athletes. And I cannot be more proud to play for my school at competitions, representing all that we stand for.
On a more objective note, playing sports also helps to develop one’s character. From perseverance, determination, and fairness, to self-belief, love, care and concern for one another, we tend to throw around big words when describing how sports can help shape who you are as a person.
However, if we put it that way, there is nothing special about playing sports, as pretty much anything else can also shape one’s character. For example, writing an academic paper requires perseverance in order to get through tough readings and series of writer’s blocks. One of the most fundamental rules in academia is to not cheat and plagiarize, just as it is a virtue in sport to play by the rules.
But in sports, unlike anything else, there are clearly defined goals, as well as clearly defined means of achieving them. In Frisbee, you train hard, so that you can catch, throw, and run. It is as simple as that. Everything else is decided by just how determined the player is. Furthermore, sports will put you under both physical and psychological duress, both good ingredients to test and strengthen your resolve. I guess you can say that sports are an uninterrupted training ground for one’s character.
This is why I will go for training again tomorrow. I must apply what I have learned. Virtues must be lived, not read.
The views expressed here are the author’s own and is not fully representative of the Student Government. The Octant welcomes all voices in the community. Email submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org