Thursday, January 13, 2011

Not Very Sporting Of You, Old Chap!

It occurred to me today that the kids in my family didn't do much in the way of team sports. Jeff came the closest, with water polo in high school, but I got the feeling that game was as much about trying to drown your opponents as passing the ball around.

K-Poo and JoJo the Enforcer did gymnastics, which is about as individual as it gets. JoJo also tried out for soccer one year, but after she put another girl in a full leg cast, she was (inexplicably!) not chosen for the team. Eric was on a basketball team for one season if I remember correctly -- I believe they lost every single game, which isn't too surprising if they were expecting the German peasant hillbilly genes to help out in any way.

I don't think I ever was involved with any sort of team sport. It shows, too -- if you put me on a soccer field I tend to kick the ball in a random direction to get it as far away from me as possible because there are all these people running at me. This is not really the attitude of a champion polo player either.

What I did do, a whole lot, as a kid is swim. I started competing when I was four or five and couldn't get out of it until I was about twelve. I was an okay swimmer, but again, the German hillbilly peasants are known for buoyancy but not so much for speed. Anyhow, I spent a lot of time in heavily chlorinated pools, and for many years my hair had that greenish tinge that only blond swimmers can get.

Team sports like soccer teach strategy and teamwork and how to knock someone down when the ref isn't looking. Swimming teaches you how to deal with boredom. You develop a really rich inner life while spending a few hours every day counting to four (breathe!) and staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool. Sometimes I would yodel underwater just for something different to do.

Ironically, swimming may have been the best preparation for my adult life. Sure I can't advance the ball or call out encouragement to my teammates, but I can stare at nothing for hours with the best of them...

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