Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Academics Vs Sportsmen
By Dr Nihal D Amerasekera
I remember Bryan Claessen as one of the finest sportsmen of my era at Wesley College. Although he was eight years my senior we struck up a friendship when he contacted me after reading my article in the 125th Anniversary School Souvenir. He spoke to me many times about the lack of recognition given to academics from school compared to sportsmen. He felt this was grossly unfair. Coming from a sportsman of his calibre I gave serious thought to this issue.
I have maintained the Double Blue International website for 20 years. In the DBI there is a whole page for Sports but no pages for Academics or their achievements. So I am partly to be blamed for this ‘willful neglect’. Even in the daily newspapers there is a section for sports but none for academia although they get a mention in the general news items.
During the school years we always gave respect to those who were clever and did well in their studies. The end of term reports and the year end promotions to the class above depended on the academic performance. The Annual Prize Giving made awards to those who performed well academically. The Medals and the Scholarships were special awards for bright students. So the academics too got their fair share of applause and acclaim.
Over the years I have enquired from many sportsmen and academics. I have also asked sportsmen who are academics. I asked my son who played cricket and hockey for a British Public School and followed a course in medicine at Cambridge where he was awarded the Cambridge hockey blue. He said on looking back he was more proud of his achievements in sports than his academics. He said academic achievements were for his personal gain and career, whereas the sports were for his team and his school and University. This perhaps explains the extra recognition and adulation one gets from the school and friends.
Bryan Claessen was a gentleman in every sense of the word and I appreciate his concern. Team Sports have been in existence since Greek and Roman times. We live in a world that loves sports. Bryan is right, Academic awards are very few even when inventions and discoveries benefit humanity and the society. The recognition is disproportionately poor. Such are the ways of the world.
We all enjoy sports and remember sportsmen more than academics. The clever clogs at school do get their recognition. I will continue to manage the Double Blue International without a page for Academics. They fit in well in the rest of the DBI pages.
Bryan Claessen passed away in Adelaide Australia on 16th March 2010, at the age of 74.
(This appeared in Double Blue International administered by ND)