A caveat: some of the most awesome people I know are athletes and sports-lovers of all variety, so this is in no way directed at anyone who isn’t filled with a loathing of magma-like consistency at the thought of working out, engaging in physical competition, and running around after a ball. Athletes and athlete-lovers are driven, ambitious, and great. I wish I were an athlete because I find many of their qualities admirable.
If I were Queen of the Universe, my first act would be to abolish Phys Ed in school. My second act would be world peace.
I can’t describe to you how much I hate sports. Not only is there a basic dislike of playing games that require me to run around, fall on my ass, and debase myself in front of a team and audience, I have an even greater lack of understanding as to why people do them. Maybe because they’re good at them? Or even just mediocre? People who are mediocre at sports often try to talk me up into them, with a well-placed “I’m not great, but I play for the fun of the game!”. What they don’t understand is that I’m not mediocre: I am laughably bad. If I were a spectator, I’d laugh at me. I have a lack of coordination mixed with a sensitivity at sucking at something and an instinct to avoid any activities in which I will be the butt of a joke, and unfortunately sports involve all three. While it’s “not about winning” (or so I’m told), people get awfully pissy fast if your crappy sports-playing abilities start stinking up the field.
Thankfully, I am about a decade separated from my horrific days of physical education. That class was literally torture for me. I would have preferred an iron maiden or a leisurely strap on the rack, I think, to tripping on the basketball court, missing an easy-to-catch ball, getting stampeded by other kids in cleats, and being last by thirty seconds to cross the finish line in track. The Spanish Inquisition sounds pretty nice in comparison. Let’s do that instead. When I die and go to hell, I will be right back in a middle school physical education class being told I suck, and hell will be cozy and familiar. Stalin will wear a coach whistle. I’ll lift weights with Clyde while Bonnie spots us. And Pol Pot will yell at me from the bleachers to put some spring in my goddamn step, Sheppard; this isn’t the ballet.
I exercise every day. Treadmill, elliptical, whatever. Exercise is, after all, good for you. The only way I can get some measurement of enjoyment (and we’re talking enjoyment like a blast of cold water on your teeth after the dentist has flossed your gums away – not pleasant enjoyment, but whatever, it’s better than agony) is to put on my headphones and AVOID ALL HUMAN CONTACT. There is nothing that sends me into unbridled anxiety faster than someone trying to talk to me while I work out. I don’t want to acknowledge that there are other people who work out in the world. What if you see my calories? What if you say “oh, I was on the 6.5 incline yesterday, try that”.
What if you realize how horrifically I suck?
Some people have nightmares of natural disasters, or of someone they love dying.
Me? I’m wearing Limited Too, I’m on a basketball court, and middle-schoolers are lined up with dodgeballs like a firing squad, their faces streaked with war paint. There is no forgiveness in their eyes.