Let’s start with some general considerations: sports are good for you, sports extend your life, people’s health is a very important index for a nation, and normally it is not considered, or very little.
What does the health of citizens have to do with the quality of life in a country? Winston Churchill already said it-although he personally never set an example of particularly caring for his health-that a nation’s greatest asset is having healthy citizens. His sentence can be read from at least two perspectives: medical, in the sense that those who are healthy live better, and economic, because those who enjoy good health do not get sick, lead more active lives, and thus do not burden others and especially the state coffers.
Churchill also pointed out another truth that we often, in our individualism, never consider: getting sick or having poor health because we neglect ourselves (excluding, of course, those who suffer from illnesses that are not dependent on their conduct of life) is not only a personal inconvenience but also a cost to the community: sick people must be treated, at a cost. Not getting sick and not having to seek treatment also means freeing up economic resources for other purposes.
Those who run practice good selfishness
It is true: running is a very selfish act. We practice it alone, often doing it for equally personal physical and mental needs, from our physical efforts the community derives no benefit. Very true, at least as true as it is that no harm comes from it as well. After all, those who run (and, more generally, those who play sports) – as long as they do not break something in the process – get much less sick and do not burden state finances. Let’s say in other terms that if we were given a health bonus at birth to spend in a hospital, not using it would mean putting it back into circulation for others who need it. Most importantly, running is an economic sport not only individually, but also for the community in the sense that it generates savings.
A great opportunity
It is said that good politicians are those who can sniff out opportunities to take advantage of them. It is therefore unclear why they never saw in sports an opportunity beyond cheering and panem et circenses, i.e., its use to appease the spirits of citizens, exasperated by the problems that, in waves, affect everyone.
Yet incentivizing sports and bringing as many people as possible to participate in them are gigantic untapped opportunities. Perhaps their effects are not measurable directly in electoral consensus but, in a more strategic and long-term view, they translate into gigantic savings for state finances. We repeat: healthier citizens are an asset and, more importantly, they free up economic resources to do many things by not having to spend money to care for them .
There is also another topic that is even more dear to us, and it is the one that, among all sports, makes us say that one, in this view, excels over the others: running. It is said that nature is the gym for runners. After all, you can run anywhere: in the park, on the street, in the mountains, in the countryside. This gym is free, not only for those who use it but also for those who provide it. The state has not and does not spend anything on most of the surfaces we run on, or has already spent on roads and sidewalks. After all, we runners use roads that everyone already pays for and do not demand special facilities, except for those who train on athletic tracks.
Yet think a bit about how you were taught running, how it was passed on to you from the earliest years of your life: either extreme competition on athletic fields or an activity you do to warm up during at school to prepare for playing volleyball or soccer.
The idea of running conveyed to us is that of an ancillary activity, at any rate not as important as others, certainly not deserving of the status of other sports.
Yet it is a discipline that excels among all others in physical and mental benefits, as well as being cheaper than others and requiring no special facilities (indeed: no facilities at all) to practice.
If we were PMs.
Ours is a biased opinion, that much is clear. Yet if we were ever to become PMs one day, we would know clearly that sport is central to every developed state and that funds spent to encourage it are investments, not losses. They might not return to the state coffers as profits but they certainly would not become expenses and losses.
In short, if you want to read it as a political program, okay: this is what we think politics should do. Having the Culture of Sport at heart and not just in words: demonstrating with deeds that the health of the individual citizen becomes a benefit to the community. Teaching and conveying the values of sports, making people understand its benefits, and fostering a culture of inclusiveness that does not focus everything on performance but values participation. Are we running for office? If you vote for us maybe we’ll think about it. Let’s run for now.