For me, these words look like General's words to his troops but they are actually an American's sport motto. Since I am here, I have noticed that the Americans vowed a real worship to sport. Here, sport is everywhere. We can see commercials about it and people doing it. They run in the streets or go into lifting rooms as if they don't have to. We can see all types of people doing sport; the office worker who does fitness during lunch time or just after work to stay in shape and to relax, the 15-years-old teenager who goes to the lifting room because he wants to have the same body as a football player, the girl who does Zumba dance to have a nice butt and beautiful abs for the beach this summer or this couple which runs together almost everyday because they have always loved sport and don't want to become weak. Yes, sport is a part of the United States' identity; it's a part of your culture. Doing sport, watching it on television or going to stadium and support your favorite team or sportsmen are just parts of the everyday habits for most of the Americans.
IUP Football games; Mercuryst team by Laurie Ajavon.
But why is sport so into your lives? What are you one of- if it's not THE- best nation for sport? What does make difference with other countries?
This is the question that a lot of countries ask themselves and the same one that I asked myself before I come here. But now, I have the answer: YOU LIVE IN IT SINCE YOU ARE YOUNG! From primary school to the university, you are encouraged to do sport. Sport and athlete formation are integrated into your school curriculum. Your school schedules are made so that you can have time for leisure and especially for sport. In France, our schedules are full, from the primary school to high school. We have between seven to nine hours of class per day, so no afternoon off for us. Yes, we are one of the countries with the fullest school schedules in the world. At the university, the schedules include more free time but also more homework. Although , from elementary school to high school, we have between four to six hours of sport per week, these numbers tend to decrease year after year because of politic reforms. Unfortunately, sport is not considered as very important in child education. For politicians, it is not as necessary as math, geography or French. So, to do sport apart from school, the students really need willpower and have to have a real passion for sport because it's absolutely not easy to combine both, class and sport.
I practice Track and field since the third year in primary school. Between practices, courses, homework and trying to have some leisure and some rest to be in shape for classes and track meets, I can tell you; it wasn't easy. In High school, I used to have about 31 hours of class per day, from 9 am to 6 pm sometimes. I had to go to practice then. To get there, I had to take a bus during almost an hour. After practice, I had to go back home, take a shower, eat and start to do my homework... at 11pm after a long day. I sacrificed a lot of parties, jobs and boyfriends possibilities by passion but I will never regret all these year; I met a lot of people who became my friends, I traveled everywhere in France and in Spain. I think it's a good experience for a child.
Privileges and competitive spirit
University sport in the United States is almost more important than professional sport, so, everything is made to help students- athletes. As IUP's student, you have a free access to lifting room, pool or locker rooms. As IUP's student- athlete, you get all these privileges and you can also go and see the trainers or the nutritionist for free. If you are good enough, you can get a grant which will pay your schooling, your food and your housing. In France, we don't really have sport teams in High school and university. If you really want to do sport you have to be a member of a club apart from school and pay a subscription each year. According to the sport you do and your level, you can be either pro or amateur. For example, if you are a good soccer or tennis player, as if you are 17, you can already be a pro, play for big teams or take part to international tournament and earn a lot of money. For Track and Field, it's different. There is no real professional status for athletes in France. Most of them have to work as if they participate to Olympic Games and win a medal. Track doesn't allow them to earn enough money to live or good profitable work prospects. If you need a real sport management, you have to be very good because it has a cost. There are some training centres for different sports. Teenagers can sleep and practice there and at the same time go to school with flexible schedule, but as I said, it's expensive. If you are good enough, your club can pay for you. These conditions make that, around 23 years old, a lot of people quit their sport because it's time to work and earn money and it's difficult to find a boss who would leave you leave your job early because you have practice.
For me, it's easier to be good in sport in the United States than in France; all the conditions are there for you to succeed. I think it's the reason why talented people have more chance to be discovered here. Doing sport from childhood creates in you a big competitive spirit and creates a solid mental. But sometimes, this competitive spirit can be transformed in arrogance and in a lack of sportsmanship. Foreigners are often chocked by this attitude. When I came, I was surprised to see a these shirt with written "Go hard or Go home" or "I'm bust mine so I can kick yours" and others. The worst I saw is maybe the one I saw during a track meet:
"The good: Slippery Rock
The bad: Lock Haven
The Ugly: IUP"
wearing by a Slippery Rock's athlete. I found that so puerile. For me, if you are good, you have worked hard and you know that you're going to beat everybody, don't say it, SHOW IT! I also saw bad attitude from coaches and teammates which appeared so weird to me, like indifference toward a teammate when he fails or get hurt or a coach from another school being consciously delighted about one of my teammates failure or distress.
I can understand that sport can be a passion since practicing Track and Field is mine but I have some trouble to understand certain attitude too much passionate. Sport is not supposed to teach you to give the best of yourself as well physically as mentally?
*Pictures: Man with shirt "Go hard or Go home" from Google image.
*Pictures: Man with shirt "Go hard or Go home" from Google image.