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Boating is my Sport
By Barb Hansen
May 2013

Thereís a lot of talk this time of year about getting in shape for summer sports like golf and tennis. I really donít pay attention since my sport is boating.

Besides, from what I hear golf is mostly about trying to get up a foursome and once on the course waiting to tee off or to hit the next shot. Golfers tolerate those delays so they can show off their $2,500 set of golf clubs made from materials they use to build rocket ships. I think thereís also a contest nowadays to see whoís got the biggest driver. Some of those drivers are so big they look like clubs they used while at war in the Middle Ages.

One continuing problem with tennis is trying to find somebody who plays at your level. On the court, tennis is better exercise and much less expensive than golf, but only until you suffer a heat stroke and permanent nerve damage in your wrist and elbow.

Oh, Iím sure boating has some negatives, too, but Iím blind to them. I like boating because it satisfies something deep inside, probably the same desire that some early human satisfied when she saw a log by a lake and had a big idea. I rank boating right up there with the creation of the wheel and fire.

I understand Americaís favorite leisure activity is walking. Iím okay with walking as long as itís done on sidewalks and trails, not roads with fast traffic. Itís jogging I have a problem with -- all that running pain plus a future of knee surgeries and an electric-powered wheelchair. Iíve never had a runnerís high but all I can say is that it must be one very powerful rush of endorphins.

Cycling combines the worst of walking and jogging. Bicycle riders think theyíre peddling at a pretty good clip and they are, compared to walking, but theyíre still holding up auto traffic. I know. I know. They have a right to the roads, too. Fine, but somethingís got to give and I have a feeling itís going to be the two-wheelers. Anyway, I wonít have a lot of hope for bicycling as a major sport until they design a seat that doesnít shut off blood circulating to your buns. Really, for what they charge for bicycles these days youíd think they could at least install a comfortable seat. Also, some of those riders really need to take a look in the mirror. Those get-ups they wear really donít match the bodies they have.

Itís interesting to see what sports the kids favor because, you would think, this is what theyíll do when they become adults. I noted a survey the other day that said the six most popular outdoor activities for kids 6 to 17 were, in order, basketball, soccer, in-line skating, baseball, scooter riding and fishing. I know texting one another is pretty high on that list somewhere, too, and itís both an indoor and outdoor ďsport.Ē

Letís take a look at this. After graduation and a ready supply of schoolmates, practitioners abandon basketball, soccer and baseball except as spectator sports. I donít think in-line skates and scooters will survive the enthusiastís transition to adulthood. That leaves sportfishing, and most anglers like to do that from a boat. Now weíre getting somewhere.

In another survey, parents ranked camping as the best outdoor experience for the family. Are they talking about tent camping and Iím sure there has to be Internet access or the kids just wonít go? I'll also bet they'll change their mind after they go camping more than once or twice. My sense of tent campers is that they graduate very quickly to Ibuprofen, then to RVs, then to renting cabins, and then to buying vacation homes on lakes. Then, voila, boats appear at the water's edge. So much for family camping.

The fastest growing sports, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, are kayaking, rafting, sailing and canoeing. These water-lovers have caught the bug that I caught, the same bug that infected the first boaters who sat on logs and paddled.

Iíve got a good feeling about the future of my favorite sport.
 

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