What are your experiences with the joys, hardships and character development that occurs in athletics?
1. The Environment:
I think the sports during my childhood had a much stronger impact on my character than any particular school/class etc. When you think about it, your coach, your team mates and the sport itself can stay constant for many more years than your classes/teachers etc. I think a lot of coaches are lot less jaded than teachers. Teachers end up worn down by bureaucracy, and unable to really make an impact. Many of the coaches I've had were volunteers and showed up because they still believed they were making a difference. Yes, there can negative sports environments. Coaches egos can get out of control and use the athletes like pawns. I luckily never had to experience this.
2. The Primality:
As kids (and even still as adults) we constantly get fight or flight impulses that we cannot act on. How frustrating! The hellish commute, your teacher's horrendous grading etc...all contribute to your stress and yet your "fight or flight" does you no good in these places! How freeing it is to be in sport where stressful situations can be fixed with some primal energy! Theres nothing like those do or die situations. You're behind. You're running out of real estate, time, energy. Your body is shutting down. Mentally though, you can reach that simply other world of effort. Its the kind of effort that you'll never get to apply to something like "writing an essay" and other stuff that our society likes to call "hard work".
Im convinced its this "other world" physical and mental effort combining to return you to your primal roots that makes sport a great connection to the human spirit. Whether you end up winning or losing, are at the Olympics or summer league, the primal experience can be had. Theres nothing quite like that surge of vitality you experience when pushing through that wave of lactic acid to reach a second wind that could get you back in the race.
3. Life isn't fair, but all is well that ends well:
Sports have the ability to get kids invested. They can get invested in ways they simply arent with school. Giving a kid a bad grade on a test just isnt "real enough" for them. Life can be tough for older individuals. People get fired, people get divorced, and people can feel trapped under a rock. I can remember being so invested with my athletics that it put me face to face with feelings of failure, inadequacy and self-defeat way before I might have otherwise. Im confident that I'm better for it. With death though, there is resurrection. I dont think I have happier memories than when I had out of this world performances at the end of the year, when it mattered most, that seemed to completely make up for a poor season. All was and is, truly well that ends well. From this, I learned that if it is not well, then it is not the end.
Before I had ever heard of visualizations, I was doing them. I'm convinced that they are a natural part of my cognition. I couldn't help but put on a song with a slow build, sit on the floor and stare out into the abyss putting myself there at the race. Everything would flow in slow motion, I would be able to feel everything like I was there already. The best part is when you end up actually being there, and it feels like you've already been there before.
5. The Competition:
Unfortunately, as we age, most of us replace athletics with "working out". I can hardly stand this though. It just feels so empty and pointless if there isn't going to be a measurement, a game or a race to test yourself. The moment I get myself signed up for some sort of sport, my workouts transform and they stop being "workouts" and become "practice". Its amazing how little "practice" it take to rekindle my love for sport and the spirit that goes with it.
Does anyone else have similar feelings, comments or anything to add???