Recently, the never-ending-running-machine, Dean Karnazes quoted Roger Bannister (the first human to break the 4-minute mile barrier) in his reference to how the ancient Olympic Games are so different than today’s modern Games:
the Greek ideal was that sport should be a preparation for life in general, this increasing professionalization and corruption in concert with burgeoning emphasis on individual victory has led to the decay of the ancient Olympics.
He brings up more than one good talking point in this simple quote, so I’m not going to spend an entire post on all of them.
One in particular, is powerfully poignant. That whole bit about ‘preparation for life in general’ hits a chord.
In less than 10 days, I am taking on a new athletic journey that will have me sitting on my bicycle for 620 miles down the coast of California. And as much as I’d like to say I’m just doing this of my own free will and desire for adventure, alas, I just don’t have that kind of cajones. I needed a reason other than ‘adventure’.
I am riding with a group of 100 other people who are raising money and awareness for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a nonprofit that gives equipment, prosthetics, hand-cycles, mentorship and clinics to those who want and need to get back outside and keep playing.
As an able-bodied, somewhat obsessive-compulsive athlete my entire life, I have intimately experienced and understood the inherent values – be they physical, emotional or psychological – that comes from practicing a sport (or many, in my case) for competition. And barring good parenting, sport is most definitely one of the best things an individual can do to prepare themselves for success in life, health and emotional well-being.
I expect musicians, classic painters, and other artists to disagree. I mean, you don’t become a Yo Yo Ma without discipline, commitment and focus. But what you miss in those disciplines are the physical benefits you receive by moving your body on the field, pool or running trails; and understanding of how nutrition impacts your ability to move, focus and concentrate, and the experience of seeing how your behavior impacts others who are counting on you.
So thank you Roger B. and Dean K. for stating the obvious.
And as I ready my tubes of chamois cream for the ride of my life, I’ll be thinking less about my saddle sores and more about who will experience the benefits of sport as a result of my efforts.
Onward and upward, always!