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The Tortoise And The Hummingbird

 Victoria Street Newz (Canada) 07 June 2019

I believe it was some Dutch physicians who first hypothesized that we are all born with an allotted number of heartbeats. If we race through life we will not last as long as those taking their time. The impressive longevity of the tortoise and the short-lived frantic life of the hummingbird are the most obvious examples in nature. (970 words) - By Cyann Ray

As a person who hasn't been able to run since developing breasts and bunions 35 years ago, I was somewhat pleased to hear this. While I am all for being fit and active, I have never been a fan of organized sports and I have a pet peeve against joggers. With the hoopla of the Olympics breathing down our necks, I felt it was a good time to share a different perspective on sports.

Like many of my generation and before, I grew up playing outside, even in winter. Tobogganing, skating, snowmen and fort building, hopscotch, skipping, hide-and-go-seek, red light/green light, Simon says, red rover, kick the can and numerous games involving balls or pucks kept us kids active. For almost 15 years I played, jumped, skipped, swam, hiked and rode my bike everywhere. No need for matching outfits, coaches, gymnasiums or loads of money.

Once I entered high school, gym classes completely changed my attitude about sports. I was forced to compete and that took the fun out of everything. Joy was replaced with anxiety over discovering I couldn't run as fast or throw as far as my classmates. This made me one of the last chosen when teams were formed. Just great for the adolescent ego. Ultimately, this lead me to skip off gym and solidified my anti-sports attitude.

I finished off my teen years never knowing any jocks or joggers. My friends and I remained active though. None of us had cars, or parents who'd chauffeur us around. We rode our bikes or walked most places. For years we'd gather at an ungroomed diamond for afternoons of pick-up baseball. No outs. Everyone played. It was fun.

The real world plays games much differently. I'd like to think that there are no winners or losers when I see youngsters, for example, playing soccer. But as children get older, those involved in sports of any kind are certainly learning about competition. And in our capitalist society, competition is seen as a good thing. This is troublesome.

The Olympics are about competing; about rewarding winners. And it's not limited to the athletes. Cities compete to host this brief extravaganza and they spend oodles from the public purse to do so.

In the professional world of sports we reward athletes, not with medals, but with gargantuan salaries and iconic status. Those hefty incomes are set before our youth like mighty, golden carrots. Can you imagine how society would improve if we treated teachers and healthcare workers with the same degree of limitless support, respect and financial reward as we do athletes? How can it be okay to pay some guy who can kick or throw a ball a kazillion dollars to play a game and barely provide job security and a living wage for those teaching our children or taking care of our sick?. This is preposterous. And the Olympics are bringing this absurdity home.

Lots of folks are against the Olympics for socio-political reasons. The needs of many are further neglected to accommodate the desires of a few. The poor, the sick, young, old or homeless, all are being ripped off of resources that are instead going to a few gifted athletes and the rich folks who can watch them. Billions are spent on the Olympics. That our government has the money to host this unnecessary, elitist event while making drastic cuts in services the rest of us depend upon, should be enough to offend even the most neutral fence-sitting Canadian.

But I'm not here to dis the Olympics- plenty of others are doing a fine job of that already. Mine is a complaint about the world of sports in general. Let's start with runners. Running is a basic activity that can be done anywhere, including on-the-spot in one's own livingroom. Why then, do runners insist on running where there are cars, bikes, strollers, dogs, children and elderly folks with walkers? As a cyclist, runners can pose quite a threat to my safety. Most are "in the zone," completely tuned out to their surroundings and rarely yielding to traffic of any kind.

And how about the damage to public green spaces caused by sports? Clearcutting acres of trees and using tons of chemicals so that golfers can play a game is morally questionable. I used Topaz park for nearly eight years to walk my dog. When they turned a huge, grassy field into artificial turf for soccer players, I was very sad and disappointed. To make matters worse, the amount of trash, empty bottles, used gauze and tape, soggy sweat clothes and stinky socks that are regularly left behind (despite numerous garbage cans in the area) just confirmed my complete disregard for the world of sports. Dog owners must pick up their dog's poop, but apparently, if you play soccer, you can leave your snack wrappers, coffee cups and dirty clothes behind. There are no "sports police" harassing athletes. And if you're really good at throwing, hitting or kicking a ball, you can beat the crap out of a cab driver if he fails to recognize your greatness. Oh, that's sportsman-like!

It's all about a social hierarchy. And for some stupid reason we've placed those who can move faster higher up on the scale. I can see how in pre-historic times speed may have been an asset, but I say it's time to slow down and reassess our priorities as a species. It's just called the human's not actually a race!



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