"about why sports are better than academics," she said.
"about wha? why are you asking me?" i said in befuddlement.
"because no one who actually believes that would be able to write a reasoned argument," she explained.
and so i did. sarcastic and overbearing, it was a good example of who i was at the time (and i've still got it in my box of high school awesomeness back in minnesota). a story was relayed to me of a proof-reader who exclaimed, "who is this guy? the knowledge bowl team is going to beat him up!" my friends loved it. and my geometry teacher cornered me in the lunch room (/gymnasium) the day it came out, wondering why i was ragging on euclid. all in all, i was pleased with myself.
the thing is, there was a distinct line between academics and athletics in my mind. either you were good at one or the other, but not both. it just didn't occur to me that people who were smart and liked school could be good at sports or would even want to. yes, that sounds embarrassingly primitive, but for some reason that was how i saw things. i wasn't even aware that i harbored this prejudice, it just seemed like a law of nature. one could point out that my sister was blatant proof that this was a fallacy, but she was still in junior high at that time and i wasn't paying much attention to her.
i suppose it came from my lack of skill and/or interest in sports. sure, in grade school i did soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the summer (once for each of those, i think) and never really enjoyed them that i remember. then, after fifth grade, my mom suggested i go out for the gooseberry park players that summer and that was the end of it all for me. i had found my calling. i was an arts kids, especially in the theatre. add to that school came to me relatively easily and there was simply no room for athletics in my persona.
sometime in college, this prejudice broke. i really don't remember when or how or even if there was a catalyst. but i took weight training classes (twice!) and would go out running at nights. what was especially intriguing about this was how much i enjoyed it. it was a bit of a labor to get myself out, but once i was lifting or running, it was really a good experience.
and after a semester of classes that required little more than sitting at a computer and clicking a mouse, i've enrolled in two p.e. classes, although here they're under "kinesiology" (sounds more important, i guess?) i'm taking strength training and swimming. strangely, though, i still carry with me vestiges of the prejudices that i once espoused. walking through the facilities, be they the brand-new state-of-the-art rec center or the archaic cold war-era coliseum, i feel like it's blatantly obvious to everyone that i don't belong in this world. so i do my best to walk cool, to swagger and look like i'm tough. and i think people generally buy it.
it's still not a part of my life yet, but every little bit makes a difference. and i like exploring this new world.
plus, i look cool in my swimming goggles, even if i can't see without my glasses.