Personal experiences in the wonderful world of sports.
|By Jack Loudermilk
I have concluded that there's no such thing as "the perfect sport."
Take downhill skiing, for instance. I made my first 'stand' on skis in 1980. After several lessons, I continued to rely on gravity and friction (throw in a little nose-plowing) to stop me at or near the lift line. Occasionally, I used a few surprised and unwilling fellow skiers to keep me from skidding all the way to the parking lot. I showed no prejudice in selecting my involuntary volunteers. Fortunately, I never seriously hurt anyone although I feared a few might want to hurt me before it was over.
When I did find my ski legs -- more than a decade later -- I learned that there's a limit to the amount of cooperation between the human body and the brain. Unfortunately for one female skier, I made one last run of the day that ended when my body collapsed on top of her body. I wasn't being a pervert. It could just as easily have been her boyfriend’s body that cushioned my collapse when my body refused my brain's order to stop. I'll never know if he took pity on my pathetic efforts to get off his girlfriend, or if he simply didn't like her enough to justify killing me.
Cross-country skiing isn't much easier. I was told it was as easy as walking, but I don't remember ever being at a dead stop in my low quarters and falling flat on my face.
And then there was basketball. It wasn't much of a problem in school. I tried out for the team and simply didn't make it. Guess it had something to do with not being able to dribble and run at the same time. I couldn't shoot either. But, not being one to give up, I volunteered (against my will) to play in an "Over 30" league. I still had trouble dribbling but I actually scored a couple of points.
My basketball career ended early due to a sprained ankle. The doctor couldn't determine whether anything was broken because x-rays were unable to penetrate the severe scar tissue I had from an earlier injury. I had torn some ligaments chasing a Frisbee during my pre-30 years.
Baseball was another one of those sports that didn't give me much trouble. If the ball was coming too fast, I just got out of the way. But coaches frown on that, even in Little League.
Just before the Frisbee incident, I managed to screw up my first day of softball tryouts. I started by pulling a leg muscle reaching too hard for a line drive. The coach was nice enough to let me pitch but another line drive caught me in the middle of my chest. I showed off my 'tattoo' for three days.
As for horseback riding, I have yet to win an argument with one of those creatures.
You would think that bicycles, unlike horses, are safe because you have more control over your speed and direction. Not so. There's nothing like having your life flash before your eyes while screaming down hill at 60 M.P.H.; barreling down on a cyclone fence. Good brakes ARE important.
Bowling is safer than horses and bicycles but you trade physical pain for embarrassment. Balls in the gutter. Missing easy spares. And there's nothing like walking in on league day, being handed a patch for a previous 245 game, and then starting the night with a 119.
I could go on talking about the welts from racquetball, never getting off the bench the one and only time my parents came to my high school football game, or having my tennis instructor quit within the first 15 minutes of my first lesson. I could, but I won't.
And I'm certainly not going to say anything about how cleaning a rifle caused me to spend two days in a hospital. That's too embarrassing.
So why don't I just give up and settle for being a couch potato or bookworm? I'm afraid the boredom would kill me.