If you watch BBC TV over the next two weeks you will not escape the
Wimbledon phenomenon, where even the most dedicated couch potatoes in the viewing public become obsessed with fine physical specimens like Andy Murray throwing themselves around the courts. Meanwhile, if previous years are anything to go by, the public tennis courts in my local park will suddenly be full of people not looking anything like so fit trying to emulate their sporting heroes.
Some months ago, quite by chance, I used tennis as an analogy for life in some materials I was writing on health and wellbeing for the Open University’s forthcoming new 2nd level health and social care course.
“Not surprisingly health and social care services tend to focus on what is going wrong in the lives of their service users, as they have to try to find ways of tackling their problems. However, in order to recognise what constitutes a ‘problem’ it is useful to have some understanding of what a good quality of life might look like, as this provides a point of comparison between what might be and what is. To use an analogy, if you wanted to improve your ability to play tennis it would help to know what a good game of tennis is like, what makes for a good tennis court and for your coach to know how successful tennis players operate, as well as having an understanding of the circumstances under which people play tennis poorly. Knowledge of quality of life and the factors that contribute to an individual’s wellbeing can similarly be useful to those who provide and use health and social care services.”
What I didn’t consider at the time was that, in comparing ourselves to the likes of Andy Murray or Venus Williams, whilst we might be inspired to greater things we could also become dissatisfied with our less than perfect bodies and with our less than optimal performance. The balance between inspiration and desperation is a delicate one. How do you react to this week’s Radio Times cover?