As I was walking this morning (6.5 miles) and kayaking this afternoon (I dunno, maybe 2-3 miles at the most), I was thinking about the article I linked to yesterday and cogitating about why the subject of school sports annoys me as much as it does.

I mean, obviously, I think physical activity is important. If I didn’t, I doubt I’d spend so much time hiking and skiing and kayaking and generally galumphing around. Now, make no mistake. I am NOT an Amazon Woman and I will not be winning any triathlons. I’m just a baggy old bag who is at her best when she stays in motion.

As a kid, I was a pretty darn good athlete. In my south side Sault Ste. Siberian neighborhood, we were in constant motion. We would hold running and jumping contests and I would almost always WIN. A lot of times I would even beat *boys* who were a year or two *older* than me. I was actually once good at ball games! We played kickball in the street and, if we could manage to get our hands on a bat and ball and recruit enough kids, we would set up a baseball diamond in the back corner of the Pingatore lot. When we formed basketball teams in gym class over at old Stinkin’ Lincoln, I was always picked first.

Junior high and high school came along and, back in those days, it didn’t seem “cool” (at least to me) to continue to ride a bike or play baseball with a bunch of “little kids”. Running and jumping contests… Well… Those, uh, boys that I used to beat? They all still had cooties. Except for the ones that I sort of, um, liked (that didn’t like me back, of course). There were not a lot of opportunities back then for female students to participate in sports and most of us didn’t. My main physical exercise became walking to school, carrying my books, music, and clipboard in my left arm and my flute in my right hand. As I became more and more involved with music, I lost any taste I had as a kid in competitive sports. Heck, the music business is competitive enough…

A lot of things have changed since those days. There are *many* more opportunities for girls and young women to be involved in team sports, and that’s a good thing.

What bothers me about school sports? I think that every school’s primary focus should be on academics. I think that physical fitness is very important and I think that it should be included in every school’s curriculum. But these days, I think there is too much emphasis placed on team sports. Kids are graduating as scholar-athletes on The Planet these days. What does that really mean? What about students who get their exercise by walking or skiing or kayaking or cycling? Are they not athletes too? Those are not team sports but they can be practiced over a lifetime.

3 Responses to “athlete

  1. Margaret Says:

    We paid a TON of money for our younger daughter to pursue her passion–club gymnastics. I think it should be a more European system with city leagues and clubs rather than school affiliated. However, that would eliminate the participation of many children due to cost since clubs require memberships. I agree with you on the TOO much emphasis though.

  2. Pooh Says:

    I agree with you, pretty much. The only place where we diverge, is that I see students who are good at team athletics, but not so hot at academics. They become much more motivated to “study”, (or at least earn better grades) when their chance to play on the team is in jeopardy.

    On the issue of the lack of sports for young women back in the day: I didn’t notice the lack back then, because that was certainly not my thing. I look at the sports section in my yearbook now, and I’m shocked. Page after page, sport after sport of jocks, and for the girls, cheerleading and softball. Thank you Title IX for levelling the playing field somewhat!

    And you were on the ski team!

  3. Pooh Says:

    There was track and field for girls, too, but I don’t think their picture made it into the yearbook. I’d go check, but then I’d get lost in nostalgia land, and I have things to do today.

    But I don’t think there was lacrosse or crew, back then, for either sex.