The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Double Dutch-Gyms

For two years, I have gone to Woollen Gym to play basketball as often as my rapidly aging body will let me.

For the last two years, I have avoided the Student Recreation Center as if I feared you could actually catch a venereal disease from the weights.

Woollen Gym is my church. My troubles fall by the wayside as I walk through the cemetary on the way into Woollen.

The smell of sweat is as sweet and strong in Woollen as the smell of beer is in a pub.

For hours, I am in a state of nirvana, even when my shot is falling short and Ed Cota is embarrassing me by yelling at me to post up and quit trying to play the perimeter.

Meanwhile, at the SRC, girls put on make-up before working out and guys pose in front of mirrors.

You play games in Woollen.

In the SRC, you work out.

For me, the difference goes back to elementary-school gym class.

In first grade, my gym teacher was Mr. Hammer.

With Mr. Hammer, P.E. was all "physical," no "education." Unless knowing which kids would cry if you blindsided them with a dodge ball was an education.

My friends and I sprinted to gym every day that year for basketball, football and our favorite: floor hockey.

Our games were wonderful mixes of bone-crushing hits, euphoric running and unbridled competition.

You can imagine our disappointment when Mr. Hammer left us the following year.

In retrospect, the "Kenny" of our class was probably spared for another couple of years by Mr. Hammer's departure, but we were still bitter because of his replacement, Mr. Mead.

Mr. Mead forced us on a daily basis to line-dance to "Elvira."

When we weren't line dancing, we were playing with scarves, jump-ropes or parachutes. The parachute activity was surely based on the ridiculous ideas of the hippies -- a bunch of kids in a circle spinning one kid in the middle of a rainbow-colored parachute. A year earlier, that kid would've been getting pelted with dodge balls.

Even after Mr. Mead, gym class was forever tainted with that emphasis on "fitness" and "wellness."

These days, we coddle the less athletically inclined. Everyone can be "fit." Dodge ball has been banned and every other week kids do some activity associated with the American Heart Association.

But we never consider the toll this new civility takes on the brute jocks out there. Some kids can never adjust. Tony, a steroid-crazed football player, once tackled me in my high school "Lifetime Sports" class -- while we played golf.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

Brian can be reached at

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel Victory Paper for November 20, 2023