Physical culture & current lack of it
Culture – latin cultura –
- fineness of feelings, thoughts, tastes, manners, etc.,
- civilization of a given people or nation at a given time;
- development of the mind or body by education, training, etc.,
- behavior that is socially taught, rather than instinctive or individual.
(Thorndike-Barnhart Student Dictionary, HarperCollins Publishers, 1992 p.270).
Why do we need to talk about physical culture? Because there is none. Because our athletics are in trouble. Because we need to bring up the fact that when we talk about training and sports, we need to talk about methods of teaching and learning, and that means talking about developing our culture, developing our fineness of feelings and thoughts as it is defined in the dictionary.
Yes, culture is our ‘fineness of feelings, thoughts, tastes, manners,’ and ‘development of the mind or body by education, training’. Therefore, when we study how we are supposed to run, throw, jump and then how we learn to do it – we are developing our culture.
As it follows from the definition above, our culture is not something given to us just to take and use, but it is a process, we have to work through it and develop ourselves. It is an education, which unfortunately had been ignored for a long time in athletics.
We are at the point of our history when our understanding of the necessity to study everything that we are doing is vital to our existence. If we continue our life of ignorance, we’ll continue damaging ourselves and our future. Failing to understand that the tremendous number of injuries comes from simple lack of culture in our world of athletics is the same thing as eating fast food, becoming overweight, but not connecting the two.
Lack of culture (read: education and knowledge) in strength and skill development in baseball, for example, brought up a bad substitute for it – anabolic steroids. We can see a similar situation in track and field. Just during the last several years almost all of the top sprinters were caught and disqualified for using prohibited substances and their results were taken off the records. Let’s not even mention the disaster called Tour de France.
Unfortunately, I don’t think any of this is going to change any time soon. Our cultural level, our mentality, our social mind is not ready to quit this. For professional athletes going for the highest “stakes” of Olympic medals and achieving top level professional performance is a way of living, and the way of making money. It is so appealing to make it to the top quickly with some “magical” pills and shortcuts. Nobody wants to think about the price that they’ll have to pay. The payback comes later and it always does come, without exception, but it is not of concern for the athlete’s today when they are young and healthy. In many cases our society still tolerates the cheating behavior of our “heroes”. They still play baseball, football, run after two years of probation and so on. We love our athletes, we pay money to see them and love to see them in action. Well, what we don’t always see is how tragically their careers and lives end.
Our culture is declining. There is no solution here except for one – to make our fitness, and sport training a real physical culture where we develop our mind and body by education. Where we accept the processing of learning and perfecting our skills. This is our only choice that makes sense in the long run.
We need to learn how to use our mind and spirit, how to integrate ourselves with Nature and become truly strong and powerful. Naturally. We have to give the most powerful tools – the methods of learning, teaching and training – to everyone who wants to dedicate their lives to reaching their potential in sports. We can’t win this ‘war’ by simply catching the bad apples and banning substances, there will always be more. But we can promote better education in sports and most importantly the acceptance of the necessity to learn, to study what we want to do and bring this mentality to our common consciousness. This is the culture we need to develop and we can do it all together.