Bring Back Contact Sports!
Bring Back Contact Sports!
As Singaporeans and residents of Singapore, we would like to thank the authorities and healthcare workers for the exceptional job they have done, and continue to do, in containing the spread of the COVID19 virus. We are indeed fortunate to have such overwhelming support and cooperation from both the government and community – made up of Singaporeans, expats, foreign workers, children and adults alike – in striving toward achieving the same objective of a new normal.
Since March this year, together as a nation, we have gone through the Circuit Breaker, Phase 1 and Phase 2 of safety measures. We understand and appreciate the regulations put in place in order to protect the health and safety of the people of Singapore.
Now we come to you as athletes, martial artists, and business owners who have been knocked down and are struggling to get back on our feet. Over the past four months, two areas of our society have taken a hard hit: Contact Sports Athletes and the Businesses that offer these sports.
We come from different sports, different worlds and follow different rules – but the biggest similarity among Rugby, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling and other contact sports is our unique mission. One common goal – to empower people, physically and mentally. We exist to help our members and students reach their personal goals while also helping others to reach their own. We strive together to make each other stronger. That, and the passion for occasionally tackling our friends on the field and on the mats… A passion that has been put on standby in Singapore since March 2020.
In this new normal, we believe it is imperative that our society continues to stay fit and healthy through sports and fitness. While the government and healthcare workers do their part to contain the virus and look for a cure, it is also important that we build up our immune system by being active. We believe that sports and martial arts have a large part to play in the preservation of our health, physical and mental.
None of this has been easy though, not for anyone. The survival of the contact sports industry has never been in such jeopardy. Gyms and martial arts schools have had to let employees go. Members have left. Many have frozen their memberships waiting for the resumption of regular training. Some businesses did not survive.
First to close and last to (partially) reopen, we have not been able to accept new members since March. Our priorities have correctly been to keep everyone safe and to accommodate the pre-CB members that have returned. Yet, it becomes more and more challenging to retain these members, since we are not yet able to offer what they originally signed up for. We are struggling and cannot continue like this.
But’s only the beginning of the pain. Our members are also struggling, badly. There are many, many benefits to contact sports for those who practice it. There are obvious physical benefits: weight loss, increased flexibility, better body awareness, among others. There are also mental benefits. A person’s focus gets better. The complexity of these sports requires attention and repetition and fine-tuning, a process which demands significant mental activity.
Most importantly, sports that require physical exertion against another person have major psychological benefits. The struggle of learning, practicing and applying new techniques demands and builds resilience. The difficulty of these disciplines develops the ability to handle ever-increasing amounts of stress and challenge. Very importantly, striving aggressively together on the mats for mutual benefit means that practitioners are unlikely to seek more dangerous outlets for striving and aggression outside of the gym.
Having progressed so far into Phase Two, we are fortunate to have many examples of businesses and industries that have reopened safely. F&B, weddings, funerals, worship services, and cinemas have all restarted, and there has been no spike in infection rates. As a collective, we have managed this responsibly, and we have shown that we can do it. Furthermore, restrictions around the above activities have progressively lessened... Also, with no associated spike in numbers. This is encouraging, and it should be celebrated. It should also serve as a lesson: considering the successful reopening of the industries above, is obvious that we will be able to manage the safe restarting of the few activities, such as ours, that remain restricted.
We’ve come a long way since March. We’ve kept things safe as we’ve reopened, but we’re not done. Businesses are still dying. Deprived of the activities they’ve come to depend on, many people are still struggling badly. While most areas in Singapore society have begun to pick up again, the contact sports industry continues to take the punches without any room to breathe and recover from these hits. Take enough hits and we might never get up again.
Yet, there is finally hope. Considering the achievements we’ve accomplished together, the result of a combined effort from government and society, Singapore has drastically dropped its infection rate. We are heading towards a possible eradication of community cases soon, and we should be proud of our efforts. It is time for contact sports to return.
It is time for us to, once again, keep you healthy, strong and happy. To save jobs and invest in sports. To promote public health and healthy habits. For the sake of a physically and mentally sane society. Before the impact on local businesses becomes irreversible. Before depriving people from these services and shutting off their ventilation valves becomes even more traumatic. It is time for our industry to be given the same chance of survival that has been extended to nearly all other industries.
To that end we request to the Singapore Government to allow contact sports to resume their regular activities and training, for kids and adults. This can and should be done thoughtfully and safely, according to a well-thought-out plan, in order to help Singapore continue to excel in its fight against this global pandemic. In the interest of the physical, mental and emotional health of so many people and gyms throughout Singapore, we request that this be done as soon as possible.
Thank you very much for your prompt consideration and action.