View from the staffroom
I am reminded of both the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band's song "The odd boy" and Stephen Fry's writings, particularly in Moab is my Washpot,which convey a hatred of sport as the apogee of supposedly old-fashioned public school values. Funny how major sports players in the UK now seem to come from far more humble origins.
Can it still be said that sport is the main "way out" for members of ethnic minorities in this country? And was Chomsky right to say that sport is an expensive diversion from real problems, which would mean that sporting types can forge on to become captains of mass delusion?
Taking part in,or being good at, many sports encourages similar traits to those recognised in good leaders. Self-esteem and confidence rank high.
Sports where an individual needs to use skill, knowledge and creativity to overcome constraints in the natural world would seem to be among the best; climbing, canoeing, sailing, not traditionally associated with teams, create empathy with the world and other people but, essential for a leader, the ability to focus on a specific task or circumstance.
Let us not confuse "sport" with "games" or sink into bickering about high-profile personalities; irrelevant surely?
I believe that people who excel at sport are more likely to find failure than leadership. Of the numerous people at my school who excelled at sport, most embraced it as an opportunity to remove themselves from study. Their sport would carry them through life, so why study? Ten years on, it would appear that not one made it into a professional sport, and they seem to be struggling in a world of over-qualified people. I would suggest that the confidence gained from being good at sport may help them to lead in social situations, but this only takes place in school while sport is considered a priority and those who are good at it are seen as "cool". In the outside world and faced with a high chance of failure (through injury or underperformance) that confidence begins to weaken, self-belief weakens and so does the capacity and drive to lead.
I think that if someone has good leadership potential, then sport may well give them the opportunity to develop this. On the assumption that it is a team game, by working as part of a team they will be better placed to understand team dynamics. By observation they can begin to understand what motivates the team, what leadership strategies work best, and how different approaches are more or less suitable for different situations.
However, you can't turn dross into gold and if the potential is not there, then no amount of sport is going to "make" a good leader.
I believe the training and attributes sports can give a pupil can serve them well through their life. I do not think it is a definite requirement for success, though. As a pupil who was never really into sport, I find myself to be successful. Why? I have achieved what I have set out to do: degree, PGCE, NQT year and now an RQT. Ambition and determination got me this far. I am hoping these attributes are what will get me head of department jobs, and higher, in the rest of my teaching career.