Daily post: There’s nothing playful about sport

Do you play in your daily life? What says “playtime” to you?


If you’re the fat kid, you don’t get picked for anyone’s team in playground games. It’s mortifying, of course, but it’s also a blessed relief. You’re spared the embarrassment of missing every ball that comes your way and being forced to attempt the ungainly wobble that passes for running.

Organised sport – every day, mens sana in corpore sano style – is a different matter. You will play hockey – tennis – basketball, no matter how much of a fool you make of yourself. And we will shout at you if you can’t somersault on the parallel bars or leap the gym horse, and if you deflower yourself when we force you to do long fly… Is it our fault you’re a pathetic loser?

So no. Even when I was older (and considerably thinner), ‘sport’ still reeked so strongly of humiliation that sticking ‘playing’ in front of it was nothing but a cruel joke.

Surf, now – that’s different. Summer, sun, salt, sand, and sliding down the perfect wave just as it curls to pick to you up and carry you in a flurry of foam to the crinkling sparkle of the shallows. No boards involved, you understand. Just you, the water and sheer exhilaration. Now that… That’s not sport. That’s magic.

Learning to swim was obligatory in my family. Tradition (and safety) demanded that we could swim the length of our grandmother’s harbour pool by the time we were five, and for most of my childhood, we spent a month each summer at the beach. My parents taught me to body surf, and nobody expected me back on the beach until I was too waterlogged to float.

These days, children look at me strangely when I wander past them into the water. Ah, my little poppets, how could you know? If you’re still surfing at my age, you’ll be counting your blessings, just as I do.


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8 Responses to Daily post: There’s nothing playful about sport

  1. Surfing in Australia? Ah, a dream come true. Love this post!

  2. By the way, I was always picked last for basketball. Not because I was particularly fat, but because I was quite uncoordinated. : (

  3. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Playtime | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

  4. Pingback: Playtime… | Life as a country bumpkin...not a city girl

  5. Die Trying says:

    I love this post Helen! The first two paragraphs had me laughing all the way to the magic part! Inspiring it is my dear:)

  6. Pingback: The World Is My Playground | The Jittery Goat

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