WhyItMatters

Amid sports scandals, feats by Golden State Warriors and Leicester City inspire

These are exciting times for sports fans. In the ever-popular English Premier League, supporters of teams which have fallen out of title contention are all temporarily switching allegiances to root for the league-leading Leicester City.

With five matches left to the season, the Foxes are on the verge of an extraordinary feat: The modestly run team of misfits and castaways trumping big-spending, star-laden clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United to win their first top-flight domestic title in their 132-year history.

This morning, Singapore basketball fans will be eagerly awaiting news from the National Basketball Association, as the Golden State Warriors play their final regular season game on the verge of breaking the league's win-loss record of 72-10, a mark which many thought would never be broken when Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls set it in 1996.


Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors goes up to score on a reverse layup against the San Antonio Spurs. PHOTO: AFP

In just four months, 2016 has already seen bundles of thrilling sports feats - with the Rio Olympics still to come in August. From Angelique Kerber's improbable triumph over Serena Williams in January's Australia Open, to even Singapore's own Slingers' spirited charge to the Asean Basketball League finals, these feats are timely reminders of sport's inherent power to inspire and astonish.

Timely, because cynicism is threatening to suffocate elite sport, with recent corruption scandals engulfing governing bodies such as football's Fifa and athletics' IAAF, and Maria Sharapova's failed drugs test casting a deep shadow over the global sporting industry. Can anyone trust top sportsmen to compete "clean"? Are officials using funds to develop sports, or are they pocketing them for personal gains? For an endeavour which places huge importance on fairness and transparency, it is galling that cheats are found right at the top level of sports.

It is thus fortunate that Leicester and Golden State are in high-profile leagues that push their accomplishments to the masses, as even non-sports fans can witness these teams succeed through traits such as teamwork, dedication and determination.

For it is these unexpected but riveting feats that reaffirm the best bits of the human spirit, and stir the athlete inside everyone to continue the pursuit of sporting excellence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline 'Amid scandals, feats to inspire'. Print Edition | Subscribe