For the Love of Sport

You see that kid in the center of the photo? That’s my kid, The Bear. He’s 7, the youngest kid in the second grade, the shortest boy, and he weighs about the same as his 4 year old brother. He plays no organized sports (gasp!), and in two years of weekly gymnastics lessons has only just learned to get his feet over his head when doing a cartwheel. My kid, he’s more of a mathlete than an athlete.

Knowing that he comes from a family of runners (going back to his grandfather who also wore burnt orange when running for the University of Texas in the late 60s), The Bear decided it would be fun to enter the Austin Youth Cross Country Run. Yesterday he competed in his first-ever race: a 1K.

As I walked him to the starting line, he told me very self-assuredly that he wasn’t worried about getting lost, because he knew he could follow the boys in front of him. I told him that, just like everything else, if he did his best and had fun with it, I would be proud of him. Little brother and I lined up to watch the start, and sure enough The Bear was not the fastest boy in his heat.

But look at him. See his head down? …his arms pumping? …both feet off of the ground? That’s my kid finishing his first race. No one was telling him to run like that. His concentrated, full effort was his doing. That’s the picture of a self-motivated kid enjoying running, learning the thrill of friendly competition, and doing what comes naturally.

I have no idea what his finish time was, and he never asked about it, either. As far as The Bear
is concerned, he had a great race. I think so, too.

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