The esteemed youth minister Michael Beyer from St John the Evangelist in Silver Spring, MD wrote the following on Facebook yesterday:
Played football with the 8th grade boys and executed a beautiful double reverse. Whole defense bit.
Aside: going out and running around the parking lot for recess with the school kids is easily the highlight of my day. More adults need recess. Could you imagine how much less anxiety, stress, animosity, and unhappiness there’d be if all the lobbyists, lawyers, legislative aides, and consultants poured out of their office every day at noon for a half hour of touch football in the park?
I imagine that Mike is right about this. Wouldn’t some kind of recreational practice would be great after lunch for about an hour before heading back and resuming work until 6PM and then home for a 6:30PM dinner?
Many of us are overweight and even just a wee bit of exercise could benefit us greatly. A quick game of touch football or stickball might go a long way.
But I’m wondering how many on-field fights would spill over into the office as well? Some of the most ridiculous fights and injuries happened on the schoolyard playgrounds.
I remember getting into huge fights with my childhood friend, Ernesto, who was the neighborhood tough guy. I, in turn, was the neighborhood wise guy and that was a powder keg combination.
Ernest: “We’re playing football today!”
Mike: “Um, no, we are going to play hockey now. The guys from Cedar Street are coming with the nets.”
Ernesto: “Hell no! We ain’t playing hockey! We’re playing FOOTBALL.”
Mike: “Um, who do you think you are? You can’t just decide for everyone.”
Ernesto: “I SAID we’re playing football because I SAID SO.”
Mike: “Ok, Fonzie! Have fun playing with yourself.”
Ernesto took that last line all sorts of wrong and I ended up with a sprained arm when he threw me into a fence. But we played hockey that day.
But recess was often fun. I could never throw a dodgeball well. My hands just couldn’t grip it well. But on that playground I found out I could catch better than just about everyone else out there. Big kids would hurl the ball at me and I would zone in on it and catch it absorbing all the force with which they would throw it at me. It often didn’t even matter how close they were to me. I would somehow be able to hold on to the ball.
Recess was also a place where race was transcended. I was a public school kid in Yonkers and often one of the only white kids. I remember Keith Pitts and Darren Jacobs, two pretty athletic kids who happened to be black, were good friends. We always picked each other for our teams and we were great at setting up the screen pass in touch football. Darren would be the Quarterback and he’d dump the pass off to me on the sideline. I wasn’t very fast but once I’d get going I would be tough to catch. Keith would be my blocker and he was a big guy. He’d block two people at once and would spring me for some extra yards–often a touchdown. I grew in pride and learned to value my teammates.
We would play all kinds of baseball games. Stickball, sandlot ball, wiffleball—you name it. I remember being 13 and hitting a shot in stickball off of a guy 7 years older than me that cleared the park in a hurry. He was so embarrassed that he chased me around the park for 20 minutes and then tickled me into submission. He was an old family friend and it was all in good fun.
Although for some, it may harken back very bad memories as well. Some of the largest scars that we have are results from playgrounds and fishing holes when one child was mean to another or something deeply tragic happened.
When I was in second grade a peer of mine used to push me up against the schoolyard fence. Sadly, I think the child may have been sexually abused by someone because the schoolyard aides told my sister (also a teacher’s aide in my school) that he was “rubbing himself against me” to put in mildly. It turned into a major issue with my mother talking about this to the principal and I received a stern warning to stand up for myself and to not let people do things like that to me. I didn’t like fighting much and wasn’t very strong at a young age. This boy was bigger than I was and he took advantage of me. I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember feeling trapped and alone.
I also remember that first day on the playground when I didn’t know a soul and I hadn’t played games like “tag” or “ring-a-leevio” and not being very fast for my age I often ended up being “it” for much of the recess period.
But, I’m thinking that recess was mostly good for me. My gym Absolute Performance has been mostly good for me as well lately. I couldn’t do the “modified prowlers” last week and was really embarrassed by that–especially when a tiny woman of about 100 lbs was able to do them and was cheering me on:
“C’mon! 5 more yards! 5 more yards”
While I appreciated the gesture, I wanted to set her skinny self on fire.
This morning it was a much different experience. I arrived more well-rested for the 2nd class at 7:30AM instead of the 6:30AM and that made a huge difference. I also find that I burn myself out in the warm up. My knees aren’t great and so instead of jogging up the stairs I hit the bike as per my trainer. And then we had our challenge circuit of the day.
It started with sledgehammer swings on a tire. 10 for each arm–actually it’s more about legs than arms. Then we moved to a rope pull that was attached to a “prowler”–think of the sled that linemen push in football. The prowler also had 70 lbs on each side. Once we pulled that about 25 yards we had to push it back to the starting point. (The very exercise I couldn’t do with a much smaller prowler last week. This week–no problem!).
Oh you thought we were done? Not even close! We then had rope slams. Big thick heavy ropes that we slam into the ground for 20 reps. Then it was off to do a “farmer’s walk”–walking with heavy dumbbells for about 30 yards. Then we dragged a sled with about 200 lbs on it forwards and then backwards.
We finished the circuit with flips of the big tires. The hardest one for me, but we did it with a partner, so that worked.
Frank, my partner for the day was great. We worked well together and he knew just how to motivate me. We completed 4 repetitions of the entire circuit. Let’s just say I feel a lot better about myself today than I did the other day when I ended up on my back unable to complete the exercise.
So do we need recess? I think it would do a lot of us some good.