In traditional agricultural societies people had to deal with the elements of nature, which posed a common threat to all members of the community. So they had to unite to be able to cope with the dangers.

In today's society the goals for success have become individual and this has affected human relationships which have become competitive and of course where there is competition there is also stress.

I don't need to describe to you the state of constant tension and vigilance, constant running and fear of being pushed aside, because they are unfortunately a daily experience for all of us.

So the phrases "I'm on my nerves", "if you touch me I'll explode" or similar phrases are nothing more than an expected "normal" reaction. Who can live in the traffic – and not only traffic – chaos of Athens and remain apathetic? What child can endure the rigors of entrance exams and not feel incredibly anxious?

Sport in the form of amateur sports is an important medicine against the stress of modern life. It's a healthy escape from the multifaceted problems. It is a relief from the constant pressure to succeed. It is a reaction to the disappearance of the body from sedentary life and modern conveniences. Of course, all this has been written and said, but their importance remains intact, since the parameters that render our body useless are constantly multiplying.

Therefore, health, defined as a state of physical and mental well-being, also requires exercise and sports and play, the importance of which is enormous, while its absence makes children's lives a torture.

However, if sports and more properly "sport" is a powerful anti-stress drug, indeed a natural drug without side effects, the same cannot be said about championships.

The championship, on the contrary. it is by its very nature a major source of stress, since we said that stress has to do with competition and championship is the crown of competition.

Championshipism is the distortion that modern society has brought to the field of sports.

(Here I would like to confide in you that when I was writing this introduction, we were on the eve of the Olympic Games and I was afraid that all this would sound out of place. But then came a bunch of facts that alone could constitute a huge volume).

But this work belongs to Sociologists. As a Psychiatrist and, in particular, as a Child Psychiatrist, I will refer to the expense that competition brings in the mental sphere.

Referring to sports, we see that participation in training has direct benefits in your very existence and without conditions. In championships, however, the value is neither the training, nor even the performance. Value is your performance relative to the performance of others. Your goal is not simply to do better than others. Therefore the other person is the one who threatens you and paraphrasing Sartre: "my fellow athlete is my hell". You have value as long as you are on the podium, as long as you are the best. This is how you live with constant anxiety, since you have to be the best at all costs to be able to exist.

The greatest anxiety is experienced by the "firsts". The first, the champions pay the high price required to come first and then the loneliness and anguish of maintaining the first, since all others who wish to be first are their rivals, their enemies.

Every year after the announcement of those introduced to A.E.I. there are, as you unfortunately know, suicides of children who "failed". And these children are always the excellent students who had learned to be first and did not bear the burden of failure.

You will know the stories of former champions who could not stand being ostracized from the podium of the first and turning the lights on the new "first".

However, the fall from the podium is synonymous with the championship. The years pass and it is impossible to deal with time and its consequences indefinitely. The champion fears he won't make it much longer. The world needs idols, but it wants new ones. And if Aristides was expelled because they were tired of hearing about his virtues, the same happens with modern idols. Idols gather admiration and serving man's need to identify with the "superman", but at the same time they gather some subconscious hatred because they stand out from the average of the rest.

Consequently, the former experiences the process of mourning where he mourns his lost self and who lives the feelings initially of refusal to accept the new reality, then of anger towards those around him who were at fault (e.g. against his coach, the factors , of journalists and so on) Later he gets angry with himself for not doing perhaps what he could have done and thus finds himself in a state of sadness from which he will come out by accepting the new reality.

Many times, however, he cannot bear to see the new reality, especially when the fall was sudden and unexpected. Then the state of sadness consolidates into depression. Of course, when it comes to a healthy personality, it will find a way out and serve new goals. Thinner personalities or more narcissistic ones cannot withstand the blow and there are not a few who have ended their lives as alcoholics.

But I would like to refer more specifically to the children, for whom their inclusion from an early age in the concept of endless competition and championship, creates a distortion in their developing personality.
Many parents burden their children. They want them first. Maybe because they didn't become the first. They are constantly pushing them to read. To succeed....but not only in the lessons.

As a Child Psychiatrist I saw a family and tried to convince the parents that apart from lessons there is also play and that it is important for children. So I had asked them to let their 8-year-old son who had ticks play soccer or basketball in the neighborhood. Then the mother replied "I will let him play basketball, but if he first promises me that he will at least become first like Galis".

Many times the parents of athletes reach borderline situations. I remember the case of a father whose child was considered a talent and played football for the teenagers of a first national team. The father, a builder by profession, had invested everything in his son and expected to see him triumph on the courts. But at some point the son became interested in electronics and gave up football. The father felt betrayed in his ambitions and kicked him out, cutting off all contact with him.

But even when the child accepts to play the role of the first hunter, he receives such internal pressure that it often overwhelms him. I remember the phobias, the terrible nightmares of a rider, who every night saw that he was thrown from his horse.

For many young people the championship is a vindication or a revenge if you prefer.

Having lost the battle of school, education and academic career with the consequent painful rejection, they find the opportunity to get back into the game of social acceptance through the first in a sport.
Thus, many times we are faced with transformations where the "lazy" and "useless" become industrious and tireless in front of the goal which for them no longer means just a record but the reversal of rejection.
It is an opportunity to create a new life, but unfortunately many times the star fades and the young person returns to a lack of self-esteem.

So, even if the children succeed in becoming champions, they develop unilaterally and I don't think he is jealous of them like e.g. it happens to the world gymnastics champions who don't get to enjoy themselves like children, since they live in a steel discipline where an extra calorie is forbidden and ice cream or chocolate a forbidden dream.

We should dare to say that the same thing that is observed with parents also happens with coaches, since they feel that they are directly judged by the results of the athletes they train.
The goal of the trainer was to guide the trainee to obtain a stronger and more functional body.

The coach is at the service of the championship. He must push his athlete to perform at his best. The goal, the record, oppresses everyone and there is a constant anxiety about its constant overcoming. I remember the dream-nightmare told to me by a track and field athlete who saw his coach as a torturer who subjected him to a thousand tortures.

But at the same time we should also talk about the drama of the coaches who do everything and yet their success does not depend only on them but also on someone else, perhaps on an immature child, who reacts under pressure, with a thousand laughs or even giving up of his efforts. So it is no coincidence that many times strong bonds of friendship develop between coach and athlete, but also many other times strong feelings of anger and disgust.
I would like to close my presentation with the role that psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists can play in sports, because it is a crucial issue.

So if the expert is called upon to help understand and solve the problems faced by the athlete, if he is called upon to help solve relationship problems between coach and athlete, or between team members, then that is something he can do. and which certainly indirectly brings some fruits without side effects.

But if he is called to isolate the athlete, and see him only as an athlete who must achieve a record and not as a whole person, that is, if he uses the techniques from his field of science to dope the athlete in his own ways, then maybe the doping will be perfect, the record will be achieved, the first will come and the urine test will show nothing, but I don't know if he should feel proud.

But I don't think there is anyone here who has such goals. On the contrary, we are all called upon in the context of preventive sports medicine to realize not a man made for sport, but a sport made for man.

Dimitris Karagiannis
Preventive Sports Medicine Conference, Athens 1988