My kind of sport

Andrea posts today about two issues dear (or rather not so dear) to my heart. And in my mind they are related because they reflect the traditional competitive and controlling attitude that old-guard males tend to bring to both creation and recreation. In the workplace, it’s manifested as the ‘old-boy’ network and the old ‘X’ management style. In sports and physical fitness, it becomes ‘be better than everyone else at any cost so that you/we can win’ rather than ‘be the best you can be and have fun with the becoming.’
I like physical activity. I will stay on the dance floor until my hair’s a sweaty hank and my legs and arms feel like rubber. But I refused to take gym in high school and I flunked it one year in college. Having to compete ruins it all for me. It becomes just more work, more pressure, more stress. Physical activity is supposed to relieve stress. I’ve never been physically strong or prone to enjoy competing. That’s why I like dancing (mostly ballroom) so much. It relies on grace and cooperation and is a great stress reliever –as long as you don’t get caught up the competition circle that the dance studios promote.
That said, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t compete in sports if they want to. It is, after all a great way to release the effects of all that testosterone. I’m just saying that equal value should be given to engaging in sports or dance or any other physical activity for the sheer fun of it. I remember when b!X was somewhere around ten or eleven years old and I was working in the office responsible for the State Library and State Archives, the staff of those two organizations got together for a ‘pick-up’ softball game once a week all summer. Kids were welcome to play as well, and so I opted to play on the Library team. The only rule was that we played until it got dark and then we all went out for pizza. We sort of kept score, but there was a lot of leeway given to the younger kids and lightweights like me. Exercise, camaraderie, encouragement, fun. That’s my kind of sport.

2 thoughts on “My kind of sport

  1. Simply put: Yes, yes, yes.
    For years my “sport” of choice was running. Just running. Every other day I’d simply don the ol’ track shoes, shorts, t-shirt, and occasionally the walkman and run for 3-5 miles. I didn’t push myself. I ran fast, but exactly as fast as I needed to. For me it was not only exercise, but quiet time. Time to think, time to reflect.
    It calmed me down. It stabilized me. At the time, it was my only form of exercise. And that was just great.
    A year and a half ago, however, I took up Tae Kwon Do. I could write many paragraphs on its particulars, but there is competition there. In this case though, most of the competition is with oneself. One is “chosen” by the instructor to test for the next belt. Once that choice is made, the test itself is fairly well a formality. It means one has already been judged “ready.” But the thing is, that judgement is not based on some arbitrary standard. If I were being judged against some people in my class, I’d never test. And if some were judged against me, they’d never test. The determination is based on the instructor evaluating what I’m capable of given my size, weight, strength, speed, flexibility, drive and a whole host of other considerations. But the sum effect is that it’s about achieving one’s own potential.
    The thing I like about it is that I have, through this form of pseudo-competition with myself, begun to learn so much about myself. I’ve learned about my physical and psychological limitations. But even more importantly, I’ve learned how to, well, “get around” those limitations.
    Anyway I could write much more about this, but maybe that’s a blog….
    Oh, and thanks for the comments regardig Mercy and Strength. Expect some kind of response, email, blog, comment or otherwise soon!
    Finally (and not least): Here’s hoping things go well with the surgery. I’m sure it’ll be routine. Shoulda put this on that comments list, but I know it’s getting where it needs to go anyway. 🙂
    Tom

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