i wasn't naturally athletic, but it was almost more of an ideological issue. just as no man can serve two masters, being good in school and being good at sports seemed fundamentally incompatible, and, given the choice, i opted for academics. and so this fallacy, despite being a gross stereotype and having plenty of contrary evidence, existed with me, more or less, through high school. i loathed gym class and couldn't understand why anyone except refrigerator-shaped guys would take sports as an elective.
there was one moment of anomaly: during my sophomore year, i was friends with several of the school newspaper staff and was approached with the assignment of writing an opinion on why sports are better than academics. my severely puzzled-look at my friend--whom i knew knew she was asking the wrong guy--elicited the reasoning: anyone who genuinely believed that couldn't write it well enough (her words, not mine). as such, i had a hey-day with it. so successful was it that i overheard one girl say, "who wrote this? the knowledge bowl is going to attack him!"
by high school, it seemed that the die has been cast: if you weren't on the athletic train by now, it was too late to jump on. besides, i didn't like competition. the "i'm better than you and i'm going to hit you harder" mentality seemed (and still does) immature and unappealing. i was much more of a "let's all work together" team player. ...which would have obviously been a very good trait for sports. instead, i was happy throwing myself into math competitions, every theatrical performance i could get, and being captain of the knowledge bowl team. all of which i was very competitive in, it just didn't seem as barbaric.
looking back now, the only sport that seems appealing was hockey, but, in minnesota, if you don't start by age 5, you may as well move to another state.
the greatest argument against my views was a friend named ashley jensen. despite having the misfortune of being a boy named "ashley", he excelled in seemingly everything. he was brilliant in academics and was aiming for med school. ok, he had glasses and parted his hair; that fits. he was masterful at the saxophone, seated several chairs up from where jon and i were assigned. fine- music is arty. but as we were spending more time talking about religion, he invited me to play tennis. sure, i "played tennis", which amounted to a couple weeks in a summer activity and those few units in gym class.
at the tennis court, ashley took off his shirt and revealed that he was as physically fit as he was mentally. our "game" lasted about three serves, at which point he charitably suggested that we just "have fun" hitting the ball back and forth. i don't remember the whole event last very long.
over the past few years, i've accepted that sports are not the enemy, nor do they have to edge out other aspects of "jeff." balanced athletics can help other areas of my life. i like friendly competition. i took weight training (twice) at byu, without any coercion. and i liked it.
so, the tennis racquet. the weather's warming up and i could either say "i should play sometime this summer" or i could go out and actually play next week. becky and brady are pretty busy with graduating, parenting, and moving, so next on my list was jaime. i didn't know if she actually played tennis, but she was my best bet.
thankfully, she was up for it and we went out this morning.
you may have noticed from the above story that i've never successfully "played tennis." i've hit a tennis ball with my dad when i was younger, but an actual game? no.
so when we were into our third or fourth game this morning, it occurred to me that i was actually playing tennis. and loving it. we played for about an hour and a half, and i could've gone for another hour (i think). my most recent education on scoring comes from playing wii tennis and i can't keep straight the differences between games, sets, and matches, but it was a blast.
so, if anyone out there plays... ; )