This article was submitted to Ergo by Kartikeya Sharma, who is currently in his first-year at the National Law University, Jodhpur, and whose passion for, and talent in, basketball is incredible.
Beta abhi padh lo, college mein khelne ko bahut time milega. I’m sure many of us have heard this line countless times from our parents and other family members. I don’t know about others, but I for one vehemently disagreed with this as I thought that college would be more hectic than school. I can now admit (being the humble person I am) that I was wrong. Law school gives you plenty of opportunities to engage in various sporting activities. For those who think law school is intense and hectic, it is, but it is upto you to strike out the right balance between the various activities you want to engage in.
From what I have learnt over the last 9 months is that playing sports in college is a commitment. Once you are part of the team you have to make sacrifices for the betterment of the team. It may include missing classes for tournaments, cutting out siesta time and even missing outings with your friends. If you can come to terms with this only then can you hope to have a successful relationship with the game you play. When you start playing college sports, you will come across a plethora of sports people. Some who play for the love of the game, some who play to keep themselves fit, some who play for the lack of better things to do. Within those who love the game too, there will be people who are not interested in playing tournaments outside as they have other priorities. Oh I forgot to mention, playing outstation tournaments also includes the possibility of missing tests. At least at NLUJ, where there are tests all the bloody time, the probability of you missing a test during a tournament is pretty high.
Let me clear out any queries regarding support from the college for sports. There is no support. Either financial or academic. You miss a test, too bad. Your attendance drops, not our problem. Yes, I know it does not sound very nice but it is the harsh reality and the decision is upto you. In fact, there are many people who are satisfied with playing Yuvardha every alternate year and not missing out anything. I am not one of those who is content with playing a tournament once in two years and therefore am willing to travel to play more. People often like to make wise-cracks like what is the point of travelling all the way and losing in the first round and returning empty handed. Frankly it serves no purpose in responding to these quips as these people would never understand the feeling of playing with a team. The team being united by only one thing, that is, true love for the game. Quite honestly, we play for ourselves and not for anyone else. It’s not about playing for the crowd or the people watching. Frankly, not many people give a damn whether you win or lose. This is a fact that has to be accepted. You take a look at your teammates and realize that everyone is counting on each other. Being part of a team means respecting the others playing with you.
If someone asks me what does all this teach me, I say discipline. Showing up for practice on time shows a respect for the game and shows how seriously you take the game. When you step on the field/court everything else takes a back seat. Personal problems, academic pressure etc. For the duration of the match, all your focus is on your target. It’s about zoning everything and everybody out. Not allowing the other team to get into your head. Not allowing the opposing fans get under your skin. I think that is the most important distinction between a real player who takes the effort to travel and one who sticks to playing the home fest. In my 1st semester, we had Yuvardha, NLUJ’s sports fest (yes, I am a bit obsessed with it). The environment is electrifying with some really good home support for us. So, yes it is amazing playing at home once in two years. But, when you get on the road is when you are really tested. Travelling by train/ bus to other universities to play in hostile environments with almost zero support on unknown fields/ courts is very nerve racking.
As a 1st year I had a lot to learn from my more experienced teammates. First thing that I had to learn was that I was at the bottom of the food chain so I would have to swallow all my ego and accept the fact that nobody had the time or patience to deal with a 1st year’s attitude and ego. Most importantly, not to let your emotions get the better of you. More often than not, it has an adverse impact on your game. Once you let the crowd get into your head, either in a good way or a bad way, you are letting your team down. Scoring and celebrating with the crowd looks good on TV but in real it can distract you and lead you into a situation where you are playing to impress the crowd and the entire game can go downhill from there. On the other hand, getting into verbal confrontations with the other team or the crowd can lead you into getting into a personal battle with them and isolate yourself from the rest of the team. Lastly, constructive criticism is an essential part of being part of a team and I think feedback is an important aspect of communication between players.
This is a summation of what I have learnt in the 9 months at law school. I would like to thank my teammates and friends for helping me through the tough times. It hasn’t been an easy ride, and I’ve gotten a lot of criticism for my game, but like Lebron James said,”I like criticism, it makes you strong.”
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