These things all start when you’re a kid.
I’m a kid, so I go to public school and, for the most part, gym class is the best.
Only a poor excuse for recess as time goes on, but still necessary and fun.
It was mostly about getting to try things. All the new things with new rules. Very few we didn’t get to.
We didn’t do the Boys Vs Girls thing a whole lot, thankfully. We all played together. And when we played soccer, shit, I was so happy. Offense is my jam. If I got to run and kick and run and keep running and kick some more: hell yeah. I wanted to start my lung fires burning and keep them hot.
The Jock knows the field can teach you more about yourself In one round of play, than several books on the subject can. The pure efficiency to the quick of the stuff you’re made of, rewards handsomely.
Something in me started me standing up slowly from the gym floor. We were all seated about, like a steaming pile of talking puberty, while teachers polled us to see who wanted to participate in the year-end games.
I was sitting next to my then-friend Tina, who pulled on my arm and almost got me to sit back down again. She was by definition an airhead...
So the only time I competed was in that track relay I volunteered for in 7th grade. Comparatively I sucked hard at it, but still knew I tried my hardest, and it was nice to come into a personal body awareness in my backyard the weekend before. I was alone after dinner in maybe early May, just enjoying the quiet, and asking myself questions I’d never considered before. How should I prepare for this? Am I eating the right things to help rather than hinder my performance? What should I wear? If I stretch and warm up now, will I do a better job then?
I’m very close to my parents and they, along with school, have influenced much about the associations I’ve made and probably continue to make about athleticism and sportsmanship.
My dad is into road cycling. Not racing so much, only circle tours as a way of expressing camaraderie and experiencing the challenges of the landscape. He and all of his buddies have fallen off their bikes more than once. No matter. It hasn’t killed them, and more importantly it hasn’t killed the joy.
I am interested in dexterity and agility. Speed and finesse, but not in an obsessive, perfectionist way. Just unmitigated physical focus.
Dad- he didn’t need speed. But the need for speed in someone is a raw arrogance that simply knows the world exists in order to conspire with them to break their own records. Mental records.
I have a need for speed. This is how I know I’m a jock.
But I know speed will kill me, and I have a stronger desire to live.
I have never played a sport professionally and wouldn’t care to risk injury to my body in such a manner. But I admire greatly those who do and do it well, especially in the name of working together to cultivate a comely and distinct spectacle. Grace and technique and sheer will towards achievement. You know, like the Greeks. I don’t know about you, but when I watch diving competitions and synchronized swimming during the Olympics, I am in complete awe.
I had to follow a bit in my mother’s footsteps too.
My mom apparently hated ballet class with her whole soul. I can see why. She was forced into it for awhile, for one. Ballet takes patience and a penchant for pain. Dancers are born to love their bodies by not giving a fuck about them. Except for what goes in them or on them.
She wanted to be an ice-skater, but ice skating hurt more when I fell, so I didn’t take to it right away. I pouted and bitched out by the bleachers the first class.
I took enough ballet to know I wanted to get into gymnastics, but they were a bit too pricey for what my parents could afford. I still wish I’d learned to do a proper backflip.
Later, I wanted to be a cheerleader. I’m mostly a spazz who likes to jump around, so I went to a pep rally and saw what these gorgeous, coordinated, vocal babes could do when they worked together, and I popped with enthusiasm.
When a lot of my close friends at the time balked, my own interest dropped. Same with other things. Peer groups as we know retain much influence at this stage of life.
As you can probably tell, my hubris lay in that place where I like to be good at something right away when I try it for the first time. This works alright when beginners luck is on my side. However, I never really wanted to be so good at something as to be a professional. I just didn’t take a calling, or have my blood burn like that for any one thing. I’m a total dilettante who happens to be naturally athletic. And I have my own issues with failure…
I choose sports, but sports haven’t always chosen me back. Often one hears the phrase “Sports and Leisure.” Leisure has definitely chosen me back. Play is at the core of who we are when we are discovering things. A game is a great way to spend unstructured time.
Thing is too- there is so much that is just laughable about the sporting life. Shit can be really funny when things go wrong. I can’t be bothered to take it that seriously.
But just as mother poo-poos ballet, people, I fucking hate tennis. With a passion. Such a time-wasting crap sport. I think the real players who are good at it and find it challenging are excellent people and consummate pros, but when it comes to the game itself… Don’t get me started.
And volleyball is well meaning enough. We know balls aren’t malicious on purpose, but this pastime usually translated into a well-meant ball-smash in the face. At least once in a round of games all the nerve endings in both cheeks, forehead and nose would burn from a hi-velocity slap. It was like dodgeball in this way. I dislocated my thumb playing dodgeball once. Never again.
Some things in life you just have to give up on for good.
Sports can also teach you when to walk away.
I’ve always been pretty lucky when it comes to body image. I like my body, even tho it is limited in what it can do because it is, well, only a meat suit. A shell.
But to be a jock is to explore ego fully. The individual sports player is a philosopher of limits, and perhaps in order to be one to the zenith, she has to possess a competitive side.
Ambition is as naughty a word as competitive to me. Grasping. Climbing. Having something to prove means having the need for approval.
I am not competitive. Most of my family aren’t really competitive people either, which I love. Not to say we don’t enjoy a good matchup or don’t care about winning, but I see how a deeply competitive nature manifests sometimes in others as a form of jealousy, which is so repulsive to me I can hardly stand it. It is a weakness that requires careful control otherwise it has no place.
So let’s see, what else do I despise…?
I hate god. Competitive religion is killing us all.