CommentaryOPINION

Why should we be interested in sports?  

By Koon Yew Yin

Before the start of the Roland Garros tennis men finals at 9pm last night, I sent some message alerts about it to a few friends through my chat groups on WhatsApp. I was so surprised to find out that so few people were interested to watch. I thus realised the importance of writing this piece. 

About 20 years ago, I went to watch the Tennis Grand Slam in Wimbledon, London. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the management of Wimbledon had to cancel the tournament for this year and issue refunds to all ticket holders. 

I also have been to Crystal Palace Football Stadium to watch a football match. I have been to St Andrew, Scotland to watch the British Golf Open. 

I would like to share my experience. When I was in school, I used to play badminton, football, basketball and tennis. I was not good at running because I have shorter legs. But I was very good at playing badminton and was selected to be captain in school and also in college. In 1951, Malaya beat the Americans in America and brought back the famous badminton Thomas Cup. Malaya was the world badminton champion for many years. 

I was a crazy golfer.

In 1962, when I started practising as an engineering consultant in KL, I joined the Royal Selangor Golf Club. The entrance fee was only RM750. I must say, golf is an addictive game. I was so crazy about it that when I retired from active work, I bought a house in London and delivered a BMW from Munich, Germany just for the sake of playing golf.

I took my constant golf friends to play golf all over England. My constant golf partners were Too Joon Loke who was Malaysian Golf Champion, Tan Jin Yong who was a Thomas cup player, and Tan Seri Ahmad Azizzuddin who was Chairman of IJM Corporation Bhd. The photo below was taken in front of the famous Gleneagles golf club, which is very close to St Andrews. 

Let me tell you an interesting lesson I learned about human nature. The 3 people from the left were Dr Lee, Too Joon Loke and Banker Ho Lean Foo. Dr Lee took leave from his busy practice in London to join us in playing golf in all the famous golf courses including Gleneagles and St Andrews. As usual we had small bets among ourselves. Due to a small dispute, Dr Lee lost his temper and flew back to London. The pride of winning a few pounds was more important than the cost of flying back to London. It showed how pride could be more important to some than money. 

The senior golfer’s society organises an annual tournament in Colorado Spring in US every year. Each country sends 10 representatives. About 30 years ago, the captain of our senior golfers, Tan Yee Choon rang to tell me that one of the selected golfers could not go and invited me to join the team. Wah! I went along and enjoyed myself.  

Besides health benefits, I’ve learned that sports also play an important role in imparting character values. Playing sports can help teach honesty, teamwork and fair play. Learning to follow rules and respecting both teammates and opponents can also be useful in building our social skills. Experiencing the role of a graceful winner and loser teaches people about being humble, and competition in general can teach individuals about self-respect, confidence and managing stress. Taking on leading roles within your team can also teach leadership. 

In fact, the lessons I learned from sports helped me in doing business. Moreover, physical exercise is helping me live a happy long life. 

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