By Owen Smith
While I may be on the tennis team at Denison, it was not the sport of my “childhood.” My sport of choice was soccer, but I also dabbled in baseball and basketball. My parents always told me that I had to play a sport but they didn’t care which one. I played soccer in the fall and spring while intermingling baseball in the summers and basketball in the winters.
Like every kid out on the pitch with me, I thought the only direction my life could possibly take was one of a professional soccer star. After six years of love for a sport that offered me fitness, relationships and an understanding of the nearly indecipherable booze-laden Scottish accents of my coaches, my parents pulled me from soccer.
They believed that the dangers of heading were too big of a risk for me to continue, especially as a ten year old with a growing brain.
I’m not going to say that I’m a brilliant individual because I didn’t take 10,000 headers over the course of my youth, but I will say that the Scottish coaches at my academy were no Einstein’s either. Instead of quitting their childhood sports, they had semi-successful careers in Scotland to eventually become glorified childcare providers.
I think that sticking with one sport for an entire life is both a testament to an individual’s perseverance, as well as a challenge that few finish into a successful career.
On the other hand, I believe my coaches represent the danger of accepting a life laid out for oneself. It’s easy to fall into the trap of complacency. My drunken soccer coaches are a caveat to never leaving what is familiar, and I’m happy to have played so many sports, because I believe they all taught me different lessons. Tennis showed me how to think under pressure on my own.
Playing multiple sports is the athletic metaphor of a liberal arts education: tennis is my major, soccer is my minor and sports are the general wisdom that comes from playing the game of life.