At the Olympic Games, it isn’t the most beautiful or strongest who are crowned, but those who compete.Aristotle
Every year from 23 to 30 of September, the European Week of Sport takes place. The initiative started officially in 2015 to fight the growing inactivity of the Europeans. It aims to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle.
The perks of regular physical activity are not a secret to anyone. Nevertheless, an increasing number of Europeans opt for a passive routine, with disastrous consequences on their physical and mental health.
If only they could share the same enthusiasm as when they enjoy sports as spectators. Unfortunately, it is often not the case.
The sport as part of our history: in Ancient Greece
Sports were an essential element in Ancient Greek culture. The sportive practice was first of all religious. Games and competitions were held all over Greece to celebrate and appeal to the gods. The most famous ones are the legendary Olympic Games, celebrated in the sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia. The first Games took place in 776 BC and lasted until 393 AD when the Roman emperor Theodosius decided to suppress them.
Only freeborn Greeks could participate in the games, so it was another way to distinguish between them and not-Greeks. Most of the sports they practised were about physically dominating the adversary. The athletes were traditionally naked and covered in oil to avoid sweat and dust, to facilitate the contact between them.
The fame of the Olympic games was such that in 1894 Baron Pierre de Coubertin decided to institute a modern version of them, and many of the sports still practised today find their origins in Ancient Greece. Here you find some examples.
Sport as a mean of freedom and equality
The practise of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit.International Olympic Committee
The role of sports evolved throughout the ages. It passed from being essentially focused on the element of competition to a powerful mean to fight discrimination and disequality. Because of the popularity of certain sports, they started to consider athletes as role models to follow and imitate, and many of them became ambassadors for important social causes. Especially in poorest and less fortunate areas, they use the sportive activity as a tool to overcome the difficulties they face every day. During the game, there is no social background, no ethnicity, no discrimination. There is only the game.
In 1948 the first Paralympic Games took place. They are an athletic competition for people with disabilities, including amputees, people with impaired vision, with paraplegia and with cerebral palsy.
In Thessaloniki, it is active the project A Ball for All, which aims to help the inclusion of blind children through the practice of football.
United Societies of Balkans also collaborates to the project Football4All, which is about integration and inclusion through football.
The Fitness Culture
After World War II, the popularity of physical exercises such as jogging increased significantly. The ’80s saw the spreading of aerobics and bodybuilding. It was the beginning of the so-called Fitness Culture, a newfound awareness of the importance of physical exercise for a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, sedentarism (the tendency to a passive routine) is increasing more and more in Europe. According to the researches, the number of European adults spending more than four-and-a-half hours sitting per day increased by 8% between 2002 and 2017. Such behaviour boosts the risk of heart-related diseases greatly.
The European Week of Sport
That is precisely what the European Week of Sport is all about. The official hashtag of the 2020 edition, Be Active, reminds us of the necessity of regular and active physical exercise.
In occasion of the Week, the Balkan Hotspot team decided to organize a hike to one of the highest mountains around Thessaloniki: the Mount Chortiatis. If you want to know more about it, check our Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/260234681820567/.