Most of you already know this about me. I don’t like sports!
I’ve never been a natural athlete. When all the children were out playing kickball and dodgeball and pick up games of whatever, I was on the sidelines watching. That’s where I was happiest. I was fine cheering on my friends as they made passes, scored goals, and generally had fun sweating it out on fields and playgrounds. I smiled to see them win at these various games involving balls and rules and perspiration. I was fine not participating.
In a culture that deifies athletes, my position has not always been an easy one to maintain. Schools require a certain amount of physical participation, and I have to assume that it isn’t in fact a plot to torture me that requires some of this activity to take place as team sport. I am only giving the benefit of the doubt, however, since I very much felt tortured.
If I wasn’t the last one picked it was only because a good friend was trying to spare my feelings, but I was never fooled and felt sorry for whichever team carried me through to loss. I even tried hiding behind taller players in order to get missed on the choosing. This never worked, but it did spare some feelings.
So, I graduated college and was free to live an existence devoid of all things sport. Until, that is, I had children of my own.
When I learned that I was pregnant with a boy, my first thought was, “Will I have to make him play sports.” This terrified me as any other mother might be terrified of sleepless nights and lactation issues. I knew instinctively that any son coming out of my body would lack that one gene necessary to the performance of sport. And, being a not entirely obtuse mother I knew the subject would come up eventually. What I didn’t expect was that the subject would be brought up by my very own son.
When at four he came up to me and asked to play soccer, I was both relieved and dismayed at his desire. Sure, I knew that as a male child he was expected to play some type of sport. But, at the same time I dreaded seeing him get picked last. Hiding my reluctance not at all, I sighed and asked him if he was sure about this. He nodded his sweet blond head in the affirmative.
So, to soccer we went. I watched, once again relegated to the sidelines, as my son listened attentively to his coach and then approached the soccer ball with confidence and ease. I admired the way he stood tall in front of that object which had caused me to shake with fear and even a little loathing.
A year later, we are again at soccer class. And I am still surprised at how easy it is for him to take his place on the soccer field with all those other kids. I myself have never lost that slight tremble that comes with entering a gym of any sort. I watch as my son listens to the coach and then, as if that object were of no consequence, he approaches the ball.