Despite the best efforts of a plethora of coaches and gym teachers, I actually like exercise.
Seeing me during one of my many round phases—where the shape of my cheeks and the number of chins was indicative of my lifestyle at the time—you might never have guessed that.
I don’t get sports. I can’t say I tried a huge variety of them as a kid—mainly softball and tennis, with a brief foray into basketball one year. My hands never seemed quite large enough to grasp and throw a softball with any measure of skill, and I was too easily distracted by dandylions and my own thoughts in the outfield. Basketball player need to run fast, and to jump. And shoot under pressure. Guess playing P-I-G in my neighbor’s driveway wasn’t enough training.
I loved tennis, and still do. But I had both the misfortune of having a coach who I didn’t like, and the undiagnosed need for glasses during my freshman and sophomore years of high school. Not being able to see a ball can negatively impact your ability to hit it. I’ve tried once or twice as an adult to join some sort of tennis group, but I need actual lessons and practice time. Ideally, practice against other players of my ability level so I don’t just stand dumbly as balls whiz by my head at warp speed.
I think my biggest problem with sports is the competitive aspect. Don’t laugh. As a kid on a basketball floor, once the clock is running, it’s every woman for herself. Throw the game plans, the positions, the practice sessions out the window and just play to WIN. Now, I realize that as athletes and teams mature, that isn’t correct. Entirely. But it was really frustrating for me. I’d be told what position to play, and what my duties were, and I’d expect those things to remain true during a game. Which meant that the hotshot player (there was always at least one) was always in my space, butting me out of the way, and preventing me from having any contact with the ball, or from contributing in any way. I never learned the rules for being a “hotshot”, apparently.
I’m not aggressive, and I’m not that kind of competitive. If someone shoves me out of the way once, then I just step aside the next time they come through. I don’t shove back. And someone who totally outclasses me doesn’t inspire me to try harder—she inspires me to find a different activity, one with room for me to excel as well. Because there can only be one hotshot on the team, and I never felt the need to butt my way into someone else’s stinky shoes.
The “sports” that I’ve always enjoyed the most involve either a team of 1, or a non-competitive way of working together. Like color guard. There are no breakaways or one-on-one’s in a marching band show. I always had an assigned spot, and no one had any business taking it from me, or else the entire performance would suffer. In tennis, I’m either playing well or I’m not. I had one lone doubles partner with whom I ever played well, and she couldn’t play after our freshman year because of a health concern.
These past few weeks, I feel amazed and totally outclasses by
At this point in my life, I’m content with step aerobics, bike riding, and a little weight lifting (wouldn’t my high school gym teacher be amazed). But I am enjoying watching my daughter try out sports. So far, I think she has a slightly better grasp of them than I ever did.