Wednesday, September 14, 2016


So twice now my friend The Viking has commented how athletic he feels me to be.

This sounds extremely odd to me, considering the fact that I have never considered myself to be very athletic at all - frankly, after the obligatory small school sports in 6th - 8th grade and one season of soccer, I have done nothing formally athletic in 25 years.  One good thing about moving, I suppose - now I run, practice Iai, lift and throw heavy things, and do obstacle courses.

Which got me thinking (as it often does):  why would he say that?

Most of my friends that throw are far stronger and better at it than I am.  I would, in fact, consider them to be classic athletes.  Certainly not the guy that seems to have neither speed nor strength.

But as I thought about it, I realized that perhaps in at least one area, I am a generalist.

My friends, for the most part - especially in Highland Athletics - are by and large lifters and former college athletes of the hurling type.  Running - or really any kind of cardio - is to them almost anathema.  The fact that I run at all is a matter of wonder and good natured kidding to them.

I am not be able to out-sprint them (note lack of speed comment above) but I believe I could out-endure them.

The dangers of monoculture, of course.  If I become an expert in one thing I cannot do other things very well.

But then I got to thinking about other friends I have, runners or bikers.  By and large, they have the same sort of unconscious thought:  they do their sport and really do not practice aspects of others.  Although in different arenas, they have the same issue.

I am not sure what I am really thinking of here.  Other than the fact that perhaps we need to reconsider what we mean by athleticism:  is it being good at one thing (specialist) or is it being okay at a number of things (generalist)?

Which turns, I suppose, on why you are being an athlete in the first place.


PeteForester1 said...

The military specializes; so did Jesus Christ! Truthfully; no one can be good at everything. If you try, you end up being a "Jack of all trades; master of none." That being said, a little cross-training never hurt anyone! I was big into cycling when I was younger. After a while, my knees started to hurt. Turns out the muscles I used for cycling were pulling the tendons around my kneecap to one side. The answer; do some walking! The pain went away!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Right? I guess that is kind of the point Pete: we benefit by being more broadly based. Or, as Robert Heinlein put it, "Specialization is for insects".