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.
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Brian can be reached at email@example.com.