Sports are now focusing on achievement rather than effort

By , Singapore, SC
As Bill Shankly, Liverpool Football Club manager, once said, “Ask any athlete, most of them hate [sports], but they couldn't imagine their life without it. It’s part of them, the love/hate relationship. It’s what they live for.” Indeed, when we see sportsmen pushing themselves beyond the limits of their abilities when competing in a sporting event, we often wonder if all these are merely for leisure purposes, or do they do so for the ultimate trophy and achievement. When the topic on “sports” is raised, do we think of Usian Bolt, the fastest man in the world, who has had accomplished numerous amazing feats? Or do we think of Yao Ming, who averaged 38.9 points in a single basketball game in the CBA championships and brought glory to China with his commendable achievements? I agree wholeheartedly that sports today has now shifted its focus from effort to achievement, as sportsmen rely greatly on achievements to support themselves, sports teams are quickly eliminating sportsmen who are not cut out despite the great efforts which they might have had put in, spectators are now more inclined to support sports players and teams who had achieved a title previously than teams who did not, and a country’s sports team is only recognised if it brings back trophies, awards and titles from competitions.
Firstly, sportsmen rely greatly on achievements in sports events to support themselves and to assure their positions in a team, while sports teams are also quickly eliminating sportsmen who are not cut out for that particular sport. In any sports team, coaches are quick to recruit only the best and most talented people, so that they can then be groomed to produce results in future sports competitions. They encourage effort to be put in to further their talents, but if no achievement is produced at the end of all the coaching and practice, they will cruelly eliminate them from the team for the benefit of the other team, as most coaches have the mentality that “A black sheep in a team will undoubtedly affect the morale and performance of the entire team”. (Quoted from Bill Shankly) Think about it, would you rather have a hardworking player in your team who does not bring up the standards of the team and does not benefit you in any way, or would you rather recruit an achievement-centered player who can push your team to greater heights, regardless of how much effort he puts in? In this realistic sporting world, coaches do not consider the amount of effort you put in, but rather what you had ultimately brought to the team and the country. Achievement is thus continuously echoed, while effort becomes a secondary factor. In addition, in the sports world which has now become much more achievement-centric, sportsmen are quick to realise that effort which they put in does not necessarily lead to achievement, and they can go on unnoticed and unappreciated by others unless they achieve something in their career. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo, a globally recognised footballer, earns a high monthly salary of 1 billion euros after signing with Real Madrid in 2009, who noticed him after he had brought back glory, titles, and many achievements for his home country, Portugal. The magnitude of the effort he had put in to further his football skills does not matter much, if any, in being recognised; instead, it is the medals and trophies he had won in external competitions which matter the most and make him one of the most valuable players in history. However on the other side of the coin, as little as $100 to $300 was paid to mediocre sports players for a game, or to trade them off to other teams. The amount of efforts these athletes put in is not taken into consideration in this realistic sporting world, and only if you are able to produce results will you then be recognised and rewarded accordingly. The rest fade into ignorance. As such, it can be seen that achievement is directly proportional to the benefits you receive, be it fame, income, recognition, or your place in a team, with efforts playing a relatively insignificant role.
Secondly, spectators are now more inclined to support sports players and teams who had achieved something in history, than those who did not and thus are considered inferior. Would you rather watch a sports competition where the athletes had previously achieved titles and results and would logically be a more exciting match, or would you rather watch a relatively monotonous match where the athletes had not won any tournaments before? For example, the celebration of tens of thousands of Liverpudlians on the streets of Liverpool when Liverpool Football Club won the Champions League is still evident of how seriously spectators view achievements, and they celebrate when the team they support win, but mourn when it loses, as can be seen from the mass disappointment from the spectators when the Norwegians beat Germany in a football championship in Sweden. After that match, Ronning and Gulbrandsen from the Germany team were “difficult to cheer up” and were “extremely dejected”, as quoted from Norway assistant coach Roger Finjord. This indicated the huge emphasis the players placed on winning and achievement, and how they could not accept a fate worse than that. In this achievement-centric sporting world where coaches continuously stress the notion of “winning” to his teammates, it is likely that both parties would feel depressed when achievement is not obtained. Instead of congratulating one another for the amount of effort they had placed into preparation behind-the-scenes, they were only concerned about the end-product, which was whether they had achieved an award or not. Fans too acted in a similar fashion, as instead of acknowledging the tremendous amount of effort the athletes placed in, they will empathise and walk away dejected and disappointed with how the team they had supported had failed to achieve success. Thus as can be seen, sports are now focusing more on achievement rather than effort.
Lastly, some critics may argue that effort is globally recognised in sports instead of achievement, as countries such as Singapore award athletes who had participated in the Olympics but did not bring back any achievements. For example, Singapore and The United States both reward local Olympian participants for the efforts which they put in through monetary means, regardless of the final outcome. However, I do not quite agree with this view, as although Singapore does award participants for their presence at the Olympics and for the hard work they had put in before, it still values achievement more as can be seen from the huge contrast in monetary payouts ($20,000 at most for participants, $250,000 for a bronze medal, $500,000 for a silver medal and $1 million for a gold medal). Singapore thus prize achievement much more than effort as seen by how handsomely she rewards athletes with outstanding achievements in the Olympics. These monetary incentives also serve to motivate other athletes to work hard and strive to bring back more achievements for Singapore in future competitions, thus echoing how greatly she recognises achievement over effort. The United States also function in a similar way as Singapore. With Singapore’s small land area, it is not yet globally recognised by everyone. As such, in a bid to make itself more prominent on the map, it strives to have athletes bring back silverware and medals for their country so as to bring fame to itself and promote itself to other countries, thus focusing on achievement rather than effort.
In a nutshell, I strongly agree that sports is now focusing on achievement rather than effort, as can be seen from how sportsmen rely on achievements to obtain benefits for themselves, how effort is less valued and considered as time goes by, the way spectators and athletes view the outcomes of a game, as well as how a country treats athletes – whether it prizes effort put in or whether it values the outcome and achievement the athletes ultimately bring back to their home country.

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Eric L. said...
Sept. 24, 2013 at 7:40 am
Wow this was brilliantly written, good job! It is one of the only few articles which actually follows the argumentative essay format: Introduction + thesis statement, 3 points, then conclusion. Nicely done!
TheSkyOwesMeRain This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 22, 2013 at 10:50 pm
I love this, and I totally agree that sports are focusing on how good atheltes are instead of how hard they work. And on a side note, I've been to Singapore, and it is a really beautiful place. :)
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