I’ve never been that athletic which is why it might surprise you that I was on the track team in high school. I wasn’t the type of person who enjoyed running, yet I was participating in a sport that for the most part revolved around the excruciating cardio exercise I had tried to avoid most of my life. I also hate loud noises, which is one of my greatest fears, so looking back it didn’t make much sense for me to voluntarily go to track meets where a starter pistol was fired all afternoon. I guess when I signed up to join the team I hadn’t really thought it through completely.
On the first day of practice I was smart enough to choose the shot put as my event rather than the much more exhausting running and jumping competitions, although I’m sure based on my appearance, the coaches would have made the choice to keep me away from the more strenuous activities for me anyway. If I’m being completely honest about it, the only reason I wanted to join the track team in the first place was because on days when there was a track meet, the whole team got to leave school early, sometimes a few hours sooner than usual. This was very appealing to me, although I probably should have realized that the reason the meets started so early was because they were so freaking long.
Much worse than sitting in school with your friends, sitting in metal bleachers under the hot afternoon sun in the late Spring is absolute torture. I would compete in the preliminaries for my event, perform so terribly that I probably should have been embarrassed, then sat in the bleachers, sweating away the desire to live, and feeling thirties than I ever had in my entire life. It seems like the track meets would last forever, sometimes five or six hours, starting in the early afternoon and going past dark. It’s possible that I am remembering incorrectly and I’ve built track meets up in my mind to be much longer than they actually were, but every single one felt like a lifetime. It was the kind of experience where you think, “if I ever make it out of here alive I’m really going to make some changes to my life.” But at least I got out of school early. This flawed reasoning and decision making kept me in a sport that I despised for multiple years. At first I tried, I really did, thinking that perhaps with the perfect form and the right amount of effort I could be the next great olympian, never mind that I was consistently the worst shot putter on the field. Hours were spent in the living room, practicing my form, and looking like an idiot rather than trying to build up strength in order to toss the heavy ball more than a few feet. I’m quite certain that if shot putters, like figure skaters were judged on technique and form, I would have won every single time I competed. If there is a moral to this story it is this; don’t play a sport you hate just to miss a little bit of school. Pretending to be sick is a far better option because then you get to miss the entire day of school, watch TV, play video games, and the best part is you get to do so in the cool comfort of your air conditioned home.