“Life Outside the Lines” is a new weekly column in collaboration with one of India’s promising Gen Next player, Mukund Sasikumar. With candid honesty, he shares his thoughts from a player’s perspective.
Read the previous episodes here –
I chose to write about a bit larger topic this time and one blog is not enough about it and there is no right or wrong about it. But I can try and voice out how I feel about it in the shortest words possible. I want to write about education and how it has affected a player’s journey.
When someone says education to a tennis player or a sportsman, it’s mostly treated as a safety certificate in case you fail in sports. Some see it as a social obligation and actually in India, it can be also true where a degree is more valuable than some other things. But I feel education or going to school in your early ages or college occasionally or studying rigorously is much more than what people sometimes presume. It teaches you many important lessons in life which are in turn needed to help you even in your sport. It teaches many characteristics which help you blend easier with the society later on in your life. Even playing tennis and simply studying about different subjects gives you a much broader perspective about life, which you think you may never use in a lifetime. But somewhere it will help you. For me personally, it has taught me to be disciplined and keep my mind focused on something when I am not on the tennis court. The first few examinations teach you pressure handling which might even help you in tennis later on. How you treat your teachers will help you with your coach at one point and so on.
There are two reasons according to me why I recommend taking education side by side, until you really know you are making it in sport. One reason is, there is life after tennis. Even if you are super successful at sport, your career is until around 35. And what about life after that? Even if you open an academy you need to know the basics of accounting and business. The second reason is, the success rate in sport is extremely low. I don’t mean to be negative but I am talking facts. Out of hundreds who play tennis, 3 make it to the highest level, at least in India. Yes, there are exceptions who didn’t go to a normal school and made it in tennis and did a basic education. So for me, if you give up on 10 per cent improvement in tennis but your education can go side by side, then that’s how in my view it has to be done. Not playing those extra 2-3 hours in a day till your 18 doesn’t change much.
I know the circuit has seen many talents get ruined from the 10th standard and 12th board exams, because that’s what the talk is. They say he was so talented but academical pressure he took a break and never came back. But is it really the reason why he stopped? Maybe not always because Yuki was injured for a year came back and made top 100. So not playing for a few months shouldn’t stop you from coming back on track. Sometimes you may fail in sport. But if you have an education with you, you may not end up as a failure in life.
Some people while playing average tennis want to skip studying because they know they are not good at tennis and want to run away from responsibilities, telling themselves they want to make it in sport. Remember one thing, the responsibility you are running from is much faster than you can imagine. It will catch up to you one day. So better head to the study table.
I know somethings maybe disagreed on. But I thought it is a subject I should talk about because it’s not the parents but the player himself or herself should understand life is just not tennis and development needs to on a whole and education and academics is one of the biggest factors which can contribute to it. So, don’t skip papers or keep arrears. Clear existing papers if you have any and let’s see what happens in sport. If you make it big then you know what to do. Until then…….