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School of sport: The best Christmas present ever


CHRISTMAS, for most people is about presents; some would therefore say that it is all about giving but many folk will only think of it in terms of receiving.

Even total strangers come up to us and confidently utter the words, “Christmas Box”, even if we have never seen them before. Gifts are expected. Gifts are wanted. The difficulty, however, is knowing what gifts to get people.

Those of us of an older age will have experienced, no doubt, many occasions when we have received gifts at Christmas that have not been entirely perfect, many gifts that have not matched the so-called ‘Four Rules for Presents’, namely things we need, things we want, things we can wear and things we can read. Handkerchiefs, ties, socks, chocolates are easy presents for menfolk (often not needed though) while women usually end up with toiletries, wine, and kitchen items. Often such items do not suit, appeal or surprise the receiver, even if it makes the giver happier.

Presents should be given for the recipient to gain great use from it while they should be something they can enjoy and be enriched. We want the receiver to have more than he has at present, to have something she does not have at present.

Therefore, the present needs to be carefully considered and chosen. However, thinking of what present to get our loved ones is always tough. So here is a simple, perfect solution that is perfect for everyone. The best present we can receive is sport.

Sport is a gift for everyone.

There is a sport for everyone. It is something we should want and something we all most definitely need. It is something we can put on ourselves and it is something from which we can learn by reading its opportunities.

It is all of the above and more.

Sport is life; it brings life; it intensifies life; it energises life; it exudes life; it encapsulates life; it exemplifies life.

In that regard, therefore, we may need to be reminded that, as the old saying goes, we must not look a gift horse in the mouth; in other words, we must not be critical or dismissive of the gift that we have been given, questioning its value or usefulness to us.

The horse, after all, may just turn out to be a wonderful faithful, loyal, fun companion; a horse is an amazing gift for anyone, one that we should never take lightly or for granted.

We must not allow our children to look at the gift of sport with disdain, dislike or dismay. Sport brings immense value and purpose.

In these modern times, where technology is all around us, it has become even more important that we share this most precious gift of sport with our youngsters.

Playing ‘Play Station’ games is not sport, neither are Wii games.

Sport is outside; it is active. It is meant to stretch us, to stir us.

Let us just remember that giving a gift is a sign of love, a token of appreciation, a means of development.

So let us show our love, appreciation and respect for our children by giving them sport and by teaching them to be grateful for that gift. We just need to find the right gift, the right sport for our child, so that she can prosper through it.

If our child already has one sport, give him another to try.

Sport is the perfect gift, not least as many children have a natural ability, talent and gift in sport which have not seen the light of day. It is a gift that we can all afford.

There is an old saying about “Beware Greeks bearing gifts”, with reference to the Greeks presenting a massive wooden horse to be taken into the city of Troy, only for it to contain armed soldiers who would come out at night and instigate the attack on the city from within the city walls.

Rather we should beware geeks who bear gifts that are not sports (like computer games), as they will only bring about the downfall and destruction of many societies and families.

It is interesting, perhaps even coincidental, maybe even subliminal, that on a webpage in a women’s magazine which is addressing the perfect gift for the special lady in our lives, be it our wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, best friend, or teen daughter, the advert alongside the article alternates between a ‘30 Day Workout Challenge for Beginners’ and ‘A 7 Day, 14 Day, 28 Day, 35 Day Plan to Get into Shape’.

Sport is the best gift we can give our children – all of them. Just as the popular slogan goes when it comes to dogs, sport is not just a gift for Christmas but for life.

Give our children sport. It will change their world and light up their lives. It is all their Christmases in one!

  •  * Tim Middleton is a former international hockey player and headmaster, currently serving as the Executive Director of the Association of Trust Schools Email:

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