Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Sports Centered.

Setting an Example, La Garoupe Beach, Antibes 1923

(from “Making It New” and used without permission… let me know.)

You’ll have to forgive my absence of late. We’ve been dealing with sick children (and the two of us), but I’m down to just my daughter today. Of course, I’m also relegated to working on the iPad as she has control of my laptop…

That’s neither here nor there, but it has gotten me thinking, especially after having finished Crazy for the Storm. As I look around the wreck of the Manse, I feel the violent urge to declutter. Not just clean up, but declutter. And that means psychically. The best way to do that is through exercise or sport. I don’t set a very good example for the children that way, I usually work out when they’re at school. And sporadically at that.

Sport and exercise would have been anathema to the elegant man of yore. He might ride, fence, shoot, hunt and fish, but he wouldn’t have been much of a “hardy”. Neither, for that matter, was a juvenile Chris Cox. I grew up playing shortstop on baseball teams. My grandfather taught me to hunt, fish, swim and get around in a motor boat. I tried my hand at archery, but stopped after an arrow went through the hay bale, garbage can, slat fence and buried itself under the dog in the yard next door (note: compound bows are not suburb-friendly). I quit baseball when it got too competitive, around high-school. I didn’t do much of anything after that, save for four years of varsity fencing during college. Most sports hold little interest for me.

I wonder if we are doing our children a disservice raising them in the city and not forcing them to play out-of-doors? It would be up to me to take them out in winter. The thought of chasing up to the mountains for a day of skiing without Mrs. E. leaves me, errrr… cold. An o-dark-thirty drive to swim team makes me shudder at the thought. But I can’t help thinking that we’d all keep healthier if we were to take up badminton, or bicycling or something. My kids would as soon ride bikes as clean up their rooms.

Of course I want them to learn to fence, ride, swim, sail, ski, fish, shoot, and rock climb.  I’m just not sure it’s going to happen.

How about you? Are your children athletes by choice or inclination? Did you force them into playing something? Did you play a sport or continue to play a sport? Do you play together?

10 thoughts on “Sports Centered.

  1. We are indeed a sporty bunch here. It does require discipline and passion. I had one of the best days skiing yesterday and then seeing my daughter downhill race.
    Good luck with gathering your family for a sporting event, not just spectator sports. Movement is key to staying young and healthy.

  2. My son has no interest in sports at all. He is active, though, skateboarding, building whatever strikes his fancy and general play that kids do. My daughter is only three, but dare I say she’s going to be a “girly girl”. Make up and dresses interest her it seems.

    As for me, three years of high school wrestling after years of childhood baseball and soccer. Then, three year’s varsity oarsman in college (and my letterman’s jacket still fits!).

    Since then, it’s been sporadic at best with the exercise, which is sad since I seem noticeably more upbeat when I perform it regularly.

  3. Growing up in a place where outdoor activities were a fundamental part of the culture was great… I don’t live there anymore.
    Daughter number one is huge into ballet and the science fair. I was hoping more for football or ultimate fighting, or anything more conducive to a strenuous life.
    Instead its all sitting in chairs and typing things…
    I need to fix that.

  4. My children do play organized sports (he: football and baseball, she: basketball) and do non-organized sporting activities (both: skiing, swim, and golf, she: riding). Somehow I still feel like they’re too often non-active. One thing I do not support is this idea that certain sports are year-round activities. Some pro baseball players have longer “off seasons” than young athletes these days, what with summer tournament teams, fall ball, winter clinic and so on. I think, as with so many things, that variety adds the spice of life (not to mention prevents repetitive stress injuries).

    As a parent, I’m less athletic these days although I’m a great enabler of athletic activity, what with all the checks I write and miles I drive!

  5. All three of our kids are in Tae Kwan Do (karate). Te oldest high school age son is a second degree black belt but doesn’t care for any other sports. In fact he’s a thespian when he’s not kicking others in the head. The middle child daughter is also a black belt, but really enjoys playing soccer. Finally the youngest son is just starting martial arts, but is a sports nut. He watches ESPN in the morning, not cartoons.

    Sports are important for the physical but also mental development of a child. You learn to work together in teams and also learn that limits are just in your mind. That lesson is one that serves you well for the rest of your life.

  6. My husband hits the gym 3-4x/week and sometimes joins me on my daily walks (we have a dog). I swim in the summer and choose stairs over the elevator whenever possible. I garden and do my own housework. It’s all physical. I never sit all day. From age 8-16, our daughter rode horses. She learned how to control a large animal, composure, excellent mental focus, and to embrace an attitude of “no fear.” I was not willing to become a gypsy family and drive from state to state to compete, eating out of a cooler and leaving husband, son, dog, and home for weekends, so there were limitations, set by Mom and Dad. Our son preferred academic competitions and running lights and sound for the school plays over high school sports, but he picked up golf. As a young child, he was on our pool swim team during summers. Healthy involvement in sports is great, but it seems to be an all-or-none commitment. When our children were young, we saw to it that they learned to ski, swim, ride bikes, tennis lessons, and shoot trap, all natural parts of our family life. Our son became involved in Boy Scouts, so father and son did a lot of camping! Thru his Scouting, he climbed Mt Fuji, visited Japan, Thailand, and every major National Park (very worthwhile). Scouting taught him canoeing, archery, shooting, and camp skills, like how to read a map and compass and cook a simple meal. To this day he would rather hike some beautiful countryside and then tuck into a tent with a good book than play any sport. Our daughter recently ran the Athens Marathon “for fun.” Adventure beats organized sports for our family any time.

  7. Outdoor life was part of our growing up (sister to brohammas) but I was a gawky sort of kid who hated the humiliation of team sports and that carried over into most physical activity.

    Now I have children, a few of whom NEED to be active. They have a true physical need to play sports or get out and run around or their brain shuts down.

    It’s just the last few years that I’ve forced myself to the gym and am amazed at how good it feels to feel physically competent. I’ve even started running for the first time in my life – and find myself with a smile on my face now that my joints don’t hurt and I don’t gasp for air. It makes being outside – well – a whole lot more fun!

    It makes me think that it might be worth it to find some sort of fun physical activity (dance, gymnastics, hockey, swimming – whatever!) for those of my kids that aren’t naturally inclined to a physical lifestyle.

  8. I played soccer and basketball through the end of high school and then 4 raucous years of college rugby while getting my B.S. My wife was a competitive swimmer in high school, but stopped after that.
    We’ve pushed our daughter to play hockey and she has taken to it well. The time and financial committments are steep; but it pays off with the friendships and camaraderie she experiences in a team-sport environment.
    The son is into baseball and we’ll try to get him onto skates as well.
    My wife and I decided to push sports because we’ve seen the trouble that too much free time can do to young people as they gain independence. Sports fills the time and allows there to be a real downside to bad decisions they might consider. (Get drunk? Do that speedball? Off the team!)
    Many of my best memories are of multiple state championships in high school soccer and the camaraderie of college rugby. I want my kids to stay fit and have chances at great memories like those as well.

  9. All excellent points Mr. Lockwood. This summer my kids are witnessing mom and dad struggle through P90X. They keep joining in. We’ll all be in pool shape in no time! Thanks for dropping me a note.

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