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I Still Have Nightmares About Pole Vaulting

I am not ashamed to confess that I am not a big fan of contact sports, and really have limited interest in sports of any kind. I respect the sport of sports, and those who do follow sports, but I was just never big on sports. In high school, I would do everything short of inflicting personal injury on my person when football season came around, just to get out of being on the football field. Lots of excuses during which the gym instructor would just shake his head in dismay. I was too ill to be in school never mind running for a touchdown, I had a leg injury, my Mineires syndrome was acting up again, my mother was laundering my gym clothes – again. Surprisingly, I rather enjoyed basketball and was reasonably good at it, even better at volleyball, and when the gymnastics season came around, I was the first one out on the gymnasium floor, warming up with bouncy hand springs and scurrying around setting up the parallel bars, box horses and climbing ropes. The gym teacher suddenly had renewed faith in me. Except for pole vaulting. I had horrifying nightmares about errant poles and the direction the end of it might choose to go once I released my grip and I was on my way over the bar, defenceless. My only connection with hockey was back in the early 1960s when Chicago Black Hawks star Bobby Hull moved to a house just down the road from us. I think he stopped coming to visit us when our Chihuahua bit him on the finger. Even hockey stars learn that you don’t point your finger at a Chihuahua and follow it up with, “Oh, what a cute dog!”

I have difficulty watching the news when the very first news item to be discussed is a sports event, before the sports edition even comes on later in the broadcast. I am not alone. I remember the managing editor of the Trentonion, the late Roy Cornish, had this thing about sports too. He once wrote a column detailing his futile efforts in finding something on TV on his day off that wasn’t sports. Finally, he found a movie, only to discover that it was a movie about football.

So, have Roy and I, and any others, missed out on anything, now that he’s gone and I am rapidly approaching dotage? I don’t think so. One of the chief glories of being alive is our individuality and our ability to enjoy a variety of pursuits. It’s what makes the world go around and I don’t really mind listening to the sports, even if the jargon means nothing to me. I mean, if a golfer manages to hit an albatross or double eagle in professional play –  as a naturalist,  should I be concerned?

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About the Author: Terry Sprague became interested in nature at an early age. "Growing up on the family farm at Big Island, 12 miles north of Picton, on the shore of the beautiful Bay of Quinte, I was always interested in the natural world around me. During my elementary school days at the small one-room school I attended on Big Island, I received considerable encouragement from the late Marie Foster, my teacher in Grades 6 through 8. Her home was a short distance from where I lived and through the years she was responsible for developing my interest in birds. The late Phil Dodds, a former editor with the Picton Gazette, also a great nature enthusiast, suggested I undertake a nature column - a column I have submitted weekly since 1965. The column has since expanded to the Napanee Beaver and the Tweed News. Life has been good, and through the years I have enjoyed working with such nature related agencies as Glenora Fisheries Research as a resource technician, Sandbanks Provincial Park as a park interpreter and Quinte Conservation as a naturalist and outdoor events coordinator. As a nature interpreter, currently working from my home office, I now create and lead numerous interpretive events in the area and offer indoor audio/visual presentations to interested groups. Could one who is interested in nature have enjoyed a more exhilarating period in the work force?" Terry's website is

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  1. Louisa says:

    Ha ha, Terry! I can so relate. Back in grade school my friend and I used to hide when it was time for being picked for baseball teams. But someone was always sent to find us. I think children who are not sports-minded and are forced to do it, with no other outlets for their opposite personality (i.e. creative) are done a dis-service. I don’t know if it’s different now? I like ‘sports’ that are done together rather than in opposition/competition (canoeing, hiking, etc.). Competition just feels wrong and unpleasant somehow.

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