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LETTER | Brains is just as important in sports

LETTER | Sports is not just about physical strength. Besides brawn, brains too is important. Brute force cannot bulldoze you to the forefront all the time.

Remember what happened in Kinshasa, Zaire, in 1974? The whole world was showing a worried look when Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman.

Everybody felt that the brute force of George Foreman was too much for Muhammad Ali to handle.

What transpired is history. The brainy Ali used the unheard-of strategy of "rope-a-dope" to outwit and outfox the marauding Foreman into submission in the seventh round. It certainly was a rumble in the jungle.

The end result was that of brains overpowering brawn.

Another case showing the importance of brains in sports is that concerning Ledley King, the former Tottenham Hotspur captain.

King had chronic knee problems which no surgery or treatment could mend. He hardly trained for matches but managed to perform admirably in the Premier League, as he had the footballing brains to pace himself during the entire course of the match.

Rash challenges

When asked why he never received a red card and only a handful of yellow cards, his smart answer was," not to go to the ground simply", that is, try to avoid rash challenges. A thinking player is an asset to the team.

King had abundant ability. His game was such that he could forego a hard and cynical tackle and instead rely on superior positioning and marking to nullify opponents.

In 297 appearances for Spurs, he only accumulated nine yellow cards and 0 red card - an indication of his fair and efficient play. Other players should take a leaf out of his exemplary play.

In a recently concluded London Derby, a wing back did a rash challenge against the opposing player who was in fact halfway inside his own half and received a straight red card.

A needless tackle, if he had given some thought. The game was dead and buried from then on.

In badminton, the South Korean doubles specialist Park Joo Bong comes to mind as the brainy one. His uncanny anticipation, brilliant positional play, and superb reading of the game made him a player to be reckoned with for a good many years.

As for cricket, we have tailenders flexing their arms for glory when what they should be doing is to protect their wicket, by playing defensively, when there is a recognised batsman at the other end to do the scoring. They should have the cricketing brains to curb their natural instincts for the sake of the team.

Then, there is Ravichandran Ashwin, nicknamed "the professor", the India offspinner with his bag of tricks, always thinking of ways to outsmart the batsman.

In a nutshell, in sports, besides brawn, mental strength, and stamina, a constantly thinking mind is just as important to attain success.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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