In his 12 times re-edited book “Sport in Society- Issues and controversies”, Jay Coakley defines sports as “institutionalized competitive activities that involve vigorous physical exertion or the use of relatively complex skills by individuals whose participation is motivated by a combination of personal enjoyment and external rewards”. Nowadays, it is common that we consider and we refer to sports as an industry, a mere by product of the global capitalism. Therefore, we expel the personal enjoyment from the equation, in a silent acceptance that it is fair to commodify our existence in order to satisfy our greedy quest for more cash. There are few, but very tempting examples, such as Floyd Mayweather and Cristiano Ronaldo, whose giant bank accounts urge us to follow the mercantile approach.
Fortunately, there are also counterexamples – probably, for the sake of humanity and self-development.
Simona Halep is a Romanian tennis player, who leads the global ranking. After making history for home country, her performances proved her indisputable Top 10 player in the world and 2 years in a row, the best female tennis player. An outstanding achievement given the precarious infrastructure and support provided since early stages, the extremely competitive tennis environment and her quite reduced height – 1.68 m. Against all odds, she managed to constantly improve on every possible field: technique, mentality, stress management, etc. She had an uninterrupted fight with herself, with doubts, uncertainty, pain (both physical and mental).
The herniated disk kept her far from competition, but redirected her to the enjoyment of the everyday life of a normal girl who goes to parties, goes out for coffee, spends winter vacation with family.
On her return, she firmly kept her legs on the ground and proved great class, assuming possible loss. The decision to train without a coach by her side is risky, but it reveals a totally different goal: to enjoy more and to seek more the self, rather than fame, cash and top ranking. It is a common sense attitude from a girl who has nothing to prove, managed to stay on the top of the tennis world and at the moment encounters no budget restrictions. However, don’t get tricked and do not fall into the trap of considering it a step back from the reaching new, higher goals. Her declarations before the Sydney Tournament reveal that the thirst for achievement is not over. The fact that she managed to reach the second week in the first Grand Slam of the year proves it all.
What makes the difference at this moment in time is the decision to take and enjoy life as it is and to be grateful for what she already has. After her loss to Ashleigh Barty in her first match of the year, she gave a strong handshake at the net and admitted the opponent was better, but underlined the positive aspects of her game. In tennis, in sports and in life, even when we lose, there are positive aspects to underline. We just need to realize that to arrive at that point, we built a hero form zero and without further ado, the competition goes on, therefore other opportunities are on the way.