If you’ve been following my blog over the years, you will know that I’m a sports fan. My husband is too, and he’s a high school Phys Ed teacher, so sport is as much a part of his life as it is mine. My practice is by no means “athletes only,” but my patient population is definitely dominated by active people leading active lives. In fact, it was the fitness/movement/sport side of chiropractic that initially drew me in and made me want to join this profession. I was a newly-graduated University student with a Bachelor’s degree and cloudy vision of my future when I got a job at the front desk of a sports-based practice in Calgary and it suddenly all seemed so clear: this was my path.
OK, the intro’s over, onto my story:
I did an interval workout this morning; five repeats of 800m. With the Summer upon us, my kids and my husband are now home during the day, and as I pulled on my running clothes just after 7am, my five-year-old daughter asked to come along. “Can I come too?” she said, “since you’re not going far?” She’s getting heavy to push in the running stroller, and my runs these days tend to be long and hilly, so adding 50lbs of drag makes her running-buddy days few and far between. I’ve written about her coming with me on runs before and about how many hundreds of miles I’ve put on my running stroller with my kids over the years. “Sure,” I said, and she jumped up to put on some shorts and grab some snacks. My eight-year-old son’s interest was piqued when I mentioned the race-against-the-clock aspect of interval training and he asked to come too, which he hasn’t done in a couple of years. So out the door we went, armed with scooters and the stroller, snacks and smiles.
We did loops of our neighborhood; I’ve got an 800m left-turn-only route that I envision as my own personal track just outside my front door. My son and I both had watches, and we raced each other and timed ourselves, he on his scooter, me pushing his sister in the stroller. She soon finished her snacks and wanted in on the action- so she jumped on her scooter and the three of us raced the loop again and again. It was the best interval workout I’ve ever had, only because they were there too, testing their limits, pushing their bodies, learning their capabilities.
The point? Well, let’s get back to my sports-fan intro…..
My daughter is a sports fan too. In fact, at five years old, she often wakes before the rest of us, and sleepily wanders into the living room to watch SportsCentre or BlueJays in 30 until we get up. You may ask why I’m focusing this post on her in relation to sport. Well, that’s an easy answer: because the world is already set up to make boys into athletes. Now, I’m most certainly a feminist (or more accurately, an equalist), but I’m not burning my bra while I write this post, I’m simply stating a fact. “I’m going to win the World Series when I grow up,” she says while we watch baseball, “I’m going to win the Stanley Cup,” she says while we watch hockey. I smile, I encourage, I tell her she better give her mama front row seats.
I don’t tell her that pro-sports are nearly exclusively male, that female athletes are often sexualized for their feminity or criticized for their masculinity, or that the two eight-year-old girls at my son’s baseball practice get lumped into “boys, let’s hustle.” I think about aspirations of female athletes; College scholarships, Olympic Games, sponsorships. I think about how Title IX started to change the culture of sport when I was growing up. I think about how if I had to do life over again, I would be a sideline reporter and eat/sleep/breathe the ups and downs of sport even more than I do now. I think about how I can foster her passions, teach her to think outside of gender boundaries, and to use fitness and sport as a way to gain health and friendships, mental clarity and strength, energy and joy.
And I think about how I can show her that running 800m laps on quiet suburban streets before 8am is not weird, it’s actually pretty damn fun.