F is for Fun

I’ve long enjoyed athletic activities, whether hiking or swimming, bicycling, skiing, gymnastics or skating. As you might surmise from this list, I’m more of an individual rather than a team/ball sports person. I think some of that is due to the fact that I’m an introvert, and some due to it sometimes being difficult to round up teams for matches, etc. As I kid, I could get on my bike and head out or just go to the city pool to swim. When I was growing up, there were many fewer organized sports, and even fewer for girls. Doing stuff on my own was the best way to be active.

I’ve long had an affinity for activities that challenged one individually, and involved form and athleticism as opposed to sheer speed. Some of that is related to not being particularly quick at running. I suspect all my muscle fibers are “slow twitch”. I’m built for endurance, not speed. And then it just seemed fun to tumble, doing cartwheels, headstands, flips. So diving and gymnastics were fun for me. Again, I’m not brilliant at them, but I am persistent, so I learned. Repetition after repetition after repetition.

Gymnastics was a favorite sport of mine during high school through grad school. I found a group of friends there, and working out, challenging myself physically was fun and was an excellent antidote to all the intellectual activity and study of medical school. Finishing my first year of med school, I noticed that there was no celebration or acknowledgement of the event scheduled, either officially or socially. So I made my own. After turning in my final exam paper, I turned upside down and walked out of the lecture hall on my hands. A little something to celebrate.

At this point in my life, I don’t do gymnastics anymore, but I still have decent core strength and flexibility, and can do headstands and rolls. I haven’t tried a handstand in a while, but last I did, I could do them against the wall. It’s still fun to turn upside down. There’s a sense of body ownership and semi mastery that feels good to meet physical challenge.

I took up figure skating in 2001. Like gymnastics, it has that combination of skill and risk, as well as a bit of a performance aspect. It’s fun. I haven’t skated since the pandemic began, and I had cut back owing to some back issues before that, but I toy with the idea of returning. Moving along the ice, gliding has a magic of its own, and while I’m not much inclined to do jumps anymore, I imagine myself doing some spins.

Not surprisingly, watching olympic sports has largely followed my interests. Individual more that group sports. I’ve never enjoyed the sports that involve causing harm to another, particularly boxing and to a lesser extent, wrestling. I just seems wrong to me. As more as emerged about the damage done to young athletes in the pursuit of ever more extreme athleticism as well as abuse by coaches, I’ve found my interest waning. Yes, excellence in any endeavor can be impressive and amazing to watch, but the cost in lives and physical and psychological damage is too much. Wiser voices are needed to counteract the bizarre notion that only winners matter.

Sports for fun, challenging oneself, fine. Only for prizes, with only winning counting. That’s sick, in my opinion.

Written in response to today’s Word Press prompt, the ragtag daily prompt of wise, and the Blogging from A to Z challenge. Today’s letter being F.

8 thoughts on “F is for Fun

  1. One paradox of my life was my mom’s absolute lack of support for the two things I loved most — running and painting. I still did them both and would still do them both if I could still run but whatever. Because of her, I never expected anything more than to do the things I loved because I love them. Strange out that turned out to be a gift. I remember watching Dead Poets Society and wanting to yell at the kid who killed himself because his dad didn’t approve of his acting. I wanted to yell, “Follow your heart! Outlive the bastard!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know that I ever gave up a sport because somebody discouraged me from it, but I lost my competitive spirit when my younger sister out competed me in everything we both did as individual sports — after several sports in which she bested me (running, swimming, etc.), the last straw was when she beat me at tennis, in which I was fairly competitive. From that point forward, I had no competitive spirit, though I did still play tennis. My goal became to do my best, but not necessarily to do better than anybody else.

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      1. I understand that. I can’t deny that there was art competition between my brother and me partly nurtured by my mom saying, often, “Kirk’s the artist in the family.” It’s hard to say he was better than I am, but different and he, himself, never discouraged me. That meant a lot. I think I got the same lesson, Janet, to just do my best. 🩷

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