Every person who is being healthy, physically fit and athletic feels better, is less likely to fall into depression, looks optimistically into the future. We all know how important role in one’s life is played by physical activity and how enormous is its influence on physical, mental, social and intellectual development of young people.
A Roman satirical poet Decimus Junius Juvenalis who living at the turn of the 1st and 2nd century, noting the close relationship between mental and spiritual development, wrote “Mens sana in corpore sano” (A sound mind in a sound body). The Greeks believed that the combination of physical fitness and being moral make an ideal man, he was called kalokagathia (kalos-beautiful, agathos-good), instilling in young people healthy, moral principles, encouraging a modest and restrained behaviour. Quite recently, Saint John Paul II said, “Let physical exercises be part of your quest for higher values that shape character and give you a sense of dignity and success.”
The quotations above ensue the belief that there is a close connection between the effort to overcome the weaknesses of one’s own body and the equally difficult pursuit towards being good.
The term ‘sport’, mentioned in the title, is rather ambiguous. Physical education, physical culture, recreation, sports activities, rehabilitation, active recreation are terms that seem to be synonymous with the term sport but actually these are completely different areas of physical activity.
The ground for systematising sport terminology is the term physical culture, which is defined by the Act of 18 January 1996 on physical culture as “part of the national culture, protected by law” and says that “citizens regardless of age, sex, religion, race and the degree of disability – they enjoy an equal right to various forms of physical culture. ” According to the above legal act, “physical culture is: knowledge, values, customs, activities taken to ensure proper psychophysical development, education, improvement of one’s talents and physical fitness, as well as to preserve and restore his/her good health. The basic goals of physical culture is to ensure the proper psychophysical development and health of all citizens. Sport alongside with physical education, recreation and rehabilitation is one of the components of physical culture.
Each of the components of physical culture influences the nascency and development of specific personality traits. Regarding motivational circumstances, appropriately selected form and burden, and a clearly defined goal it can be an important tool in the process of upbringing, socialization and resocialization. Most of the undertaken activities are not pure forms of physical education, sport or recreation, but rather are effects involving each of the above-mentioned elements of physical culture.
The most significant is the introduction of youth into the world of sport, shaping the habits of practicing physical activity until the late age, this happens through physical education understood not only as PE classes. It starts much earlier, since the childhood, from playing with their peers, parents or guardians in the backyards, playing fields, while cycling, on additional sports activities, and various types of trainings. It is during these classes which are held according to clearly defined rules that we learn the rules of social life: respect for values, respect for others, adherence to rules, a sense of solidarity and willingness to undertake increased effort, maintain discipline in the group, the ability to live in a community.
Sports facilities as meeting places integrate young people by strengthening social ties. Through fun and exuberant nature of activities, participants learn about their strengths, weaknesses, mental and physical strength, learn teamwork and rivalry, which has a huge impact on the prevention of violence and crime.
Motor recreation is a form of physical activity, undertaken for leisure, renewal of psychophysical strength and personal development. Only in spare time it will flow from personal interests and needs. It has an invaluable educational value due to the fact that it covers all events by definition: voluntary, resulting from personal interests, pleasant and implemented in one’s free time, thus fully acceptable. Recreation is the most creative of activities in the realm of physical activity, because it allows the implementation of experiments, unconventional solutions. It is an area of educational work (including resocialization), where it is possible to act non-standard due to the ease of making new friendships, deepening interpersonal relationships and integration of children and educators. It is an area for safe interaction and partnership as well as learning mutual responsibility in the relations of the juvenile-educator.
The usefulness of sport in bringing up youth is not to be overestimated. Sport is a form of activity, aimed at improving one’s psychophysical strength, individually or collectively, according to conventional rules. This is a continuation of physical education, but it can also occur with it in parallel. This type of activity is undertaken voluntarily and the goal is to achieve maximum results. This is an important element of self-determination, deciding about making an effort and what is most important follow the established rules during the process. Due to a huge load of emotions that are not necessarily positively channelled like they should, there is a great risk of lack of positive influence on the formation of desirable personality traits in young people. It mostly depends on the educator, the trainer, his attitude and authenticity. In order to succeed in working with young people, it is necessary for educator to follow the positive values that the wants to give to the mentees.
Maturing youth have always broken the rules and regulations in the name of seeking their own identity, contesting the authorities, willingness to define their “I”, these are activities typical of adolescence. Our grandparents, our parents, did the same before us – we know it from family stories, and from the autopsy, we know about our “deviations” from generally accepted rules in this period. Among psychologists and pedagogues one can hear such sentences as: “why young people are difficult – because he/she is young”, or “there are no difficult youth, only difficult parents or carers” or “there are no difficult youth, only difficulties occurs in their lives”. Teens’ behaviour is a symptom of immaturity and difficulty in dealing with everyday matters – school, relationships with peers, teachers and parents. All positive results of physical activity develop such features as: courage, firmness, willpower, perseverance in pursuing a goal, determination, ability to make quick decisions, the ability to overcome fear, self-confidence, concentration, discipline, ability to make sacrifice, self-control, a sense of responsibility – also for others, honesty, justice, conscientiousness and sensitivity have a positive impact on the upbringing of young people. By participating in various activities in the atmosphere of emotional tension, the child develops his/her initiative, compliance with which leads to the conscious education, solidarity and camaraderie in children, develops the ability to interact, develops ambition and a sense of responsibility.