“No, as the muscle swells, the brain does not deflate”

Does the image of the athlete built on muscles, devoid of any logical sense, and to whom no matter what his body and his sport, seem to you quite outdated, outdated, even completely ridiculous? Yet some still see us like this. What if, rather than blame them, we intelligently dismantle their prejudices in order to show the world that athletes accumulate much more than physical qualities?

The difficult choice of body or mind

Our system has long been, and perhaps unconsciously, based on the separation of body and mind. We treat the symptoms with drugs by forgetting the causes, we observe the physical ailments by omitting the psychic ailments, we privilege the material comfort to the detriment of the mental tranquility . In short, there are plenty of examples. The most notable of them, however, remains the one through which we all pass, and which alone knows how to determine our future life: the school system.

Indeed, the school classifies us in two categories: the manual category and its technical streams, and the intellectual category and its general streams. But this distinction that the school system makes between the textbook and the intellectual is not fundamentally problematic. What it is is the image we have of it. And for good reason, while students from general training are considered able to use their intellect but not their hands, students trained in crafts are themselves subject to the opposite prejudice. Our predispositions, our affinities with manual trades, however, in no way hinder our faculties and our potential to perform mental activities, and vice versa. To be honest, each profession is a skillful combination where body and mind are called upon to varying degrees.

Sport also suffers from this discrimination. Because we like to devote time to sport every day (or almost), part of the collective imagination (wrongly) thinks that we put all logical reasoning aside. You only have to look at the headlines of some newspaper articles, like “head AND legs,” to understand how new this seems. To believe that combining the two is the result of a strange mutation … Fortunately, there is nothing superhuman! The proof, the sports-studies sectors have understood it well. Like what, sport and intelligence are not mutually exclusive.

Much more than “just piles of muscle”!

Cliché, this introduction, isn’t it? Yet how many people can claim to be much more than you think they are? Much more than a physical, that’s for sure.

A bodybuilder, for example, doesn’t “just blow up”. Far from there. Every athlete does more than just physical activity. Engaging in a sport means acquiring a broad general culture: advanced nutritional and physiological knowledge, a training science honed by practice and theory. The latter being moreover acquired by reading specialized articles, studies, books, watching documentaries, etc.

Tactical sense also develops through sport, experience, trials and failures. It may also seem anecdotal, but geography has (almost) no secrets for athletes: they travel live to compete, and off-line to watch others on television. Athletes are curious, documenting themselves constantly and without even realizing it. While reading, they polish their spelling, their lexicon. By engaging in sport, they build a strong mind, give themselves a chance to disconnect from everyday life, get a breath of fresh air and have a clear mind. In short, it is a whole panel of knowledge and benefits that take shape around sport. And yes, it is not all the same by chance that Juvénal wrote “mens sana in corpore sano ”(a healthy mind in a healthy body)!

Getting into the deep end of sport is already being fond of curiosity and daring. It’s about constantly learning about yourself, about others, about the world around us … and it’s about wanting to learn more. So, there is no longer any room for doubt: athletes are definitely not uneducated. And no, as the muscle swells, the brain does not deflate.

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