3.a.4 – Is sport really good for health?

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March 8, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

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Is sport really good for health?

To fight the negative effects of sedentary life, to keep in shape, it is often recommend a healthy sporting activity; the various forms of exercise and athletic activities have beneficial influence on our health as confirmed by modern medical sciences. Sport is therefore rightly promoted in our society as a value, being related to health and then to life; the fact that sport is quite spread in the population, especially among young people, seems to show that in this framework a cultural adaptation appropriate to the problems of modern life has developed, but perhaps once again appearance deceives us, since even in this case we can find some contradictions: how to explain the use of doping substances detrimental to health, even by the non-professional athletes, as happens in cycling? And how to justify the professional sport?
If we look at football, that is one of the most popular sports at professional level, it clearly appears that its aim is not to protect health: at the end of his career, a very talented footballer will be probably rich, but will certainly have significant physical problems as a result of numerous injuries like fractures, lacerations and dislocations of tendons, to which others could add if he had ever used doping drugs to enhance his performances. To be a professional player is therefore a good job, very profitable, but it is certainly not good for the health; for non-professional footballer the risk of accidents is reduced, but it still remains very high and from this activity people do not even make a single penny.
Let us examine the situation accurately: sport is good for the health when is used for this purpose, but it can also be used for other purposes, and in this case the focus is not on health anymore. There are numerous other purposes for doing sports, many of which are still beneficial, like relax, fun, social aggregation, education, physical beauty and, in the case of football and other sports followed by a large audience, also remarkable incomes; there is nothing to be ashamed in practicing a sport for these reasons, furthermore, pursuing these goals is not in conflict with health in general, but in some cases it can be so: the sport practice at professional level is usually an educational experience that shapes the young people, allowing to test themselves, to measure with others and at the same time helps to keep fit but, if practiced over a certain level, can become dangerous, especially at the professional level, and health, being in this case a secondary purpose, is forgotten.
Sport is popular among young people not because it is healthy, they are the last ones who need it, but for the sake of competition, for aesthetic aims or social aggregation and sometimes to make happy their parents, who really care about their health; often sport is so exalted in the name of health to hide other purposes considered less noble. Sport in our world is not always part of the culture of health and sometimes even leads to negative and self damaging behaviors but, because of the already known psychological pollution, often we do not realize it. Being aware of the real target to be pursued is essential to have a behavior fit for the purpose and to do a more informed assessment of risks and effects that such behavior produces. When sport will be widely practiced by who is not young anymore, to keep in shape, rather than just being followed on television as a form of entertainment, then we can say that the culture of sport-health will be really popular, but this is still a target to achieve.

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