Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sports: Providing a social "fix"

I've been thinking of why I like to play sports. My #2 reason was: They provide a social "fix."

I'm addicted to other people. I like them. I need them. Solomon said, "Two are better than one..." I agree, and I like an addict, I need a regular "fix" -- a social fix.

Some sports only take a pair of players, others require teams. Friendly competition and cooperation enhances the enjoyment. Sports give you something to do with other people. Something fun.

I don't like being alone for long periods of time. I spent 1/2 day alone once... in the early 70's... in a redwood forest. Then I hiked back to camp to my travel partner. Then we got bored, so we drove to town.

I like being around people, but I don't like sitting around for hours on end. I'll sit around and "visit" a while, but then... really? Can't we do something? Play something? Do some sports? (I might even help you do some chores. Let's just move!)

Playing sports with friends means that along with the exercise you get some laughs. You share some stories. You find out what makes the other person tick. You also find out how they handle pressure, and winning, and losing. You find out if they are honest. You interact socially.

Did I mention I like that aspect of sports?

Today I played racquetball with my nephew and his brother-in-law. They are in their late 20's or early 30's. (I'm in my 50's.) We had a blast. It was our second time playing. We played for two hours. They're fast. They hustle. We all learned to communicate better, play smarter, and we all had fun.

Just remembering some of the action eight hours later brings a smile to my face. We played hard: we sweated buckets. And we're already trying to figure out when we can do it again. Why?

Because sports rock! I have to say that some of my fondest memories in life involve good times, with good friends (and family), playing sports. It can be magical... and addictive.


  1. Haha, you remind me of Danielle, who said she's in heaven on her backcountry trip because there is always someone to talk to. To me, that sounds claustrophobic - and a half a day in the redwoods alone sounds glorious :). Am I really related to you guys?! Yes, I guess, 'cause we all like sports... Love, Joanna

  2. @Joanna: Let's see... between your two young daughters, a husband, and a set of students and co-workers... how much alone time do you have? (Not much.) I'd say that's why you crave it. But day in and day out? I seem to recall you be the brains behind many a get-together during your high school days: a social organizer? Hmmm... depends maybe it's another balance thing...

    And those "fond memories" of which I wrote... you are there!

  3. Agreed. Sports do rock, and sometimes it just feels so much better to be moving than sitting still. I'm not gunna lie, you sound like you're the kind of uncle that I'd want to reschedule a racketball match with too!

    Hope your summer is treating you well! :)

  4. Sports are a great way to get together with good friends. I hope to get into maybe tennis when my kids aren't pulling on my ankles anymore:) Terrific post, Don!

  5. @MissH: I agree, "so much better to be moving than sitting still." I'm sure it's a matter of balance once again... not an either/or, but some of both. (Thanks for the compliment about "the kind of an uncle..." I played again yesterday with my nephew. He's bought his own racquetball membership, researched some online r-ball videos from the Univ. of Maryland, and spent some time alone practicing. Me-thinks he has the bug! I see some good times ahead!)

    @SeptemberMom: I spent a decade or so not playing with adults, but instead playing with my kids. They learned to throw, run, catch, hit a ball, kick a ball, and eventually, we rejoined the adult games, with my kids involved as 5th or 6th graders. It was still a stretch, but then... as they grew... we had the best of times playing volleyball together.

    They became excellent athletes. In their 20's, they all still play a range of sports: dodge-ball, ultimate frisbee, running, and racquetball! Sports also made it easier for them to find friends during their formative years.

    (A good game of tennis requires ball boys and ball girls!)