How many parents, school administrators, coaches, participants or spectators understand the major purpose of sports? Did you know that more nations enter the World Cup soccer competition than belong to the United Nations? That a staggering one third of all humanity watch the Olympics and World Cup soccer finals-largely via television? In the United States more than 100,000 people routinely show up every January 1 in one city-Pasadena, California, where I am writing - to watch a single event, the American version of football, while one third of the nation watches the same game on television. Children by the millions, worldwide, participate in various organized programs for different sports. Sports are big. With all the watching and playing, though, how many ever ask the question, "What is the major purpose of sports ?" Ask that question and you'll receive different responses. Who hasn't heard these answers usually given as the purpose of sports: fun and enjoyment, entertainment, exercise and physical fitness, challenge and the thrill of winning, the camaraderie from belonging and contributing to a team. These are all valid reasons, yet there remains one purpose even more important. Because this purpose has been forgotten in too many cases, we see a rising current of bitter opposition to sports as they are played today.
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