Put values first in sports

By Mark Koghee

The first, the best, the winner. Fixated on the performance side of sport, we often overlook a far more important aspect of it; VALUES. Sport’s unique ability to enrich, enlighten and connect people needs more attention.

,,Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” Albert Einstein

Women of Slovenian cycling team BTC City Ljubljana have their picture taken with young English fan. PHOTO MARK KOGHEE
Women of Slovenian cycling team BTC City Ljubljana have their picture taken with a young English fan. PHOTO MARK KOGHEE

By doing sports important human values can be developed. Discipline, perseverance, solidarity, fairness, humility, passion, teamwork and healthy lifestyle are some of them. Although they are almost inseparably connected to sport they are are not automatically developed when practicing it. There lies a task for us all, sportspeople and organizers, to drive the development of values, by putting it at the heart of our sport events and our sport participation.

,,Sports are such a great teacher. I think of everything they’ve taught me: camaraderie, humility, how to resolve differences.” Former basketball-star Kobe Bryant

Promoting the values of sport is one of the important goals of the My Sport is Franja initiative. My Sport is Franja focuses on five selected values: solidarity, friendship, mutual understanding, perseverance and fairness. These sport values were also important in partisan hospital Franja after which Marathon Franja is named. Looking at those values from a sports point of view we can connect them to the following actions.

Solidarity: teamwork, respect other people’s exploits

Friendship: meeting opponents, building friendships

Mutual understanding: meeting other people and cultures, communicating

Perseverance: never give up

Fairness: play it fair

Sport has been practiced since prehistory. In the early days sport was a way to prepare men for war, as was the case for example in ancient Greece. For centuries sport consisted of games which were often rough and even cruel. Change came at the end of the 19th century. In these days of the second industrial revolution, the modern era of sport began. Coincidentally, in this same period the bike was invented and the first bicycle races were held.

In Great Britain people began to see that sport could play a role in the education of youngsters. Fair play became important which lead to the emergence of rules and sport unions.

In the same period the Olympic movement was born. The modern Olympic games were unique from the beginning because of their emphasis on values. There are three Olympic values: Excellence, Friendship and Respect. It was Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, who said the famous words ‘participating is more important than winning’. Coubertin: ,,The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

,,For each individual, sport is a possible source for inner improvement.” Pierre de Coubertin

Although unique because of its values and Olympic spirit, during the last Olympics we didn’t hear, see or read a lot about these values. More than anything it seemed to be all about the medals. In a time where where millions of people are on the run for war and poverty, where people are misunderstood and treated with hostility and where individualism reigns, sport’s unique ability to connect people is needed more than ever.

,,Unfortunately the world is what it is now. People don’t get along for whatever reason. As professional athletes, in a way we’re almost ambassadors for peace, because sports brings everyone together.” Venus Williams, tennis player

It can’t be denied that sport needs competition, winners and heroes. But they are as indispensable as the often overlooked values. Give values the attention they deserve. When looking at cycling don’t only see the rider who crosses the line first as the winner. The true winner of the day may be the rider who made a friend, the rider who overcame a fear, the rider who learned that helping a teammate leads to more success than striving for individual glory.

By simply knowing the values and recognizing them, you already put an important step towards making those values count. You can support our Signature for Franja petition. Signature for Franja is a My Sport is Franja campaign to raise awareness of human values in sport.

Values are the leitmotif of My Sport is Franja. It is therefore that we connect sport and culture. With this connection an atmosphere is created in which different people from different backgrounds can connect and learn. We promote values at Franja Academy. Franja Academy 2016 had a round table discussion about the five shared values. The Franja on Wheels cycling events, which will be held in 2017 in Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Slovakia and Croatia, will be events without competition and with connections to culture.

Connect, enrich, enlighten; follow us and put values at the heart of your sport and make yourself a better person and the world a better place.

In May 2016 cycling club Rog, the club behind My Sport is Franja, and the Idrija Municipal Museum, the museum responsible for Partisan hospital Franja, signed a memorandum of cooperation in which the two organizations agreed to promote their common values. Five human values had been identified to being important, in former hospital Franja as in cycling: solidarity, friendship, mutual understanding, perseverance and fairness.

Cycling club Rog also became member of the Anna Lindh Foundation. This foundation wants to bring people together to improve mutual respect between cultures.