This weekend, the entire population will be glued to their screens hoping their team triumphs over the other. Should we take sports seriously or lightly? The answer is both. It loses its charm and lightness if you take sports too seriously. It turns into a battle or business and that’s where all the unethical practices can stem from.

When we do not take sports in a lighter spirit and treat them as larger-than-life, we get depressed and anxious about failing. For many sportspersons, this becomes a trigger for a host of mental illnesses. A game is a game because it is foolish. If you find meaning, it is not a game. A fool does something unique, yet meaningless. All entertainment, including games, are an act of foolishness in some way.

Just imagine if somebody from another planet lands here and sees a huge crowd watching a game – one ball in the middle, a player trying to hit it all over, another trying to catch it and bring it back to the centre, only to throw it away again. Why go through all this trouble, the alien might wonder. It would appear absolutely funny and pointless. For hours together other people sit there, howling, yelling and clapping. You can watch the whole drama, with awareness. There is really nothing in it. George Bernard Shaw said somewhere, “Cricket is a game where 11 fools play and 11 thousand watch.”

Not just cricket, make your whole life a game. Take it lightly and easily. Play the game. That is worship. Have you ever seen kittens, or even small monkeys, when their are stomachs full? They don’t just sit around. They play. They are not really fighting with each other but they run, punch, scratch, and do somersaults. Sports are a natural phenomenon where we laugh and cry together. A sport or a game is the first expression of life. A baby, even before it starts recognising faces and speaking, starts playing.

I would say sports is the purest expression of life, and so honouring it is honouring our own life force. Whether it is politics, economics, music, art, religion or sports, there is only one aim of all these avenues – to bring happiness. And sport is one of the most important tools to create happiness, harmony and well-being. But we need to look at sports and sportsmanship from a broader dimension, to keep the violence, aggression and short-sightedness out of it.

Make your whole life a game. Take it lightly and easily. Play the game. That is worship. Click To Tweet

We need to learn the art of equanimity. Letting a win go to our head can lead to arrogance and allowing the loss to get to our hearts can lead to depression and anxiety. Somehow, the feverishness of winning has gripped the arena of sports. Even between countries, when one country wins, the people from other countries get so upset, and in some cases, there is violence. This can be avoided if the true essence of sports is brought to light – to uplift the spirit and unite people and have happier societies.

In a game, somebody is going to win, but that somebody’s win should be eventually a celebration for everybody, a celebration of talent. I tell sportspersons, there are only two scenarios — either you win or you make others win. That puts their minds at ease. If that is not the spirit, then it is not a game, it is a war or business. Infusing this spirit in sports is important to uplift human consciousness. If this is not there, then we are missing something that is basic to sports.

Sports have this special dimension: You can be happy just by playing, keeping aside the results. Their result is not as important as the process or the joy of being involved in the act of playing, and how well you have played your role.

It is important to make sure mental health of sportspersons are looked after. They should be beaming with real happiness when they are playing. While the physical side of training for players has advanced significantly, they should also explore their inner dimension. A strong mind can carry a weak body, but a weak mind cannot carry even a strong body. To be able to handle the demands of modern competitive sports, a calm and balanced mind is indispensable. That can come from practices that increase their focus and sense of relaxation simultaneously, like yoga, some breathing and a few minutes of meditation.