A healthy hello to all Boomeon members and readers.
As Boomeon's Baby Boomer Sports Blogger my posts won't be limited to specific boomer sports, but you'll find a boomer edge in every column.
In the New Year I plan to comment on particular teams and trends and boomer action. By outlining a plan for the year, you'll know a few things ahead of time.
Not all sports ask for everything you've got, but they do ask for the basics: balance, coordination, dexterity.
Fitness is what you do every day. Sports are what you can do with your fitness. Bucket List items have the potential to cancel fitness and sports. And the rest of your life. That's the biggest difference between the three. Things get more complicated the further you go into the outdoors.
Hiking a mountain trail improves fitness; participating in extreme sports like a mountain adventure race takes extreme fitness; save Mt. Everest for the Bucket List.
Boomers embrace fitness. Those who've read studies on exercise benefits matching drugs for heart disease, diabetes, and hyper-tension know the first step. Once they decide gym time is better than time spent shuttling between the doctor's office, pharmacy, and the TV chair, they may never need the drugs.
The fit boomer works on maintaining their health status, not getting bigger, stronger, and faster. If they decide to set personal records later in life, and avoid injuring themselves, they start looking at sports and the active Bucket List.
What are good boomer sports? Most require a level of fitness. Even shooting pool takes fitness if you live where smoking and drinking still happens in the pool room.
Golf has a few hazards too. It lowers the fitness bar with carts, a rolling beer wagon, and a walking cigar between holes. At least you have fewer things to lean on like you do with pool. Still not challenging enough?
Try Boomer Basketball with no-run/no-jump rules. If running and jumping are a problem, this is the league for you. If running and jumping are problem areas, but you don't want to surround yourself with the same problem, try the young man's game. They run and jump. They'll also make you feel older than you want. Don't retaliate by fouling and tripping. Poor sportsmanship won't turn the clock back.
If you've still got good wheels and fitness, you can take basketball into Bucket List territory by playing on a city league team, shooting and making half court shots, or becoming a rabid fan of your favorite team.
At some stage, sports become more of a spectator event. College football proves it every Saturday with stadiums full of fans in school colors. If you've ever tailgated, you know there's fitness involved. It takes a big effort to get everything organized and packed, even more when you get to the stadium and unpack. The more elaborate your setup, the more work it takes.
The walk to your stadium seat feels like a marathon after three hours of socializing from one tailgater to the next. Factor in the hike up and down the stairs to the restrooms. For all the extra calories you put in, you're still burning a few up.
You feel more engaged in sports when you donate to your chosen school, buy the gear, and wear the colors. You feel it when you see lots of young people jumping around behind the set on ESPN's College Game Day wearing the same clothes. Not many boomers there, but once in the stands everyone looks alike. After a big win you may not jump the rail and rush the field with the students, but you're there in spirit.
Are you a sports fan who enjoys events more when the underdog wins? Or when the sports gods appear like they did on the 109 yard missed field return for Auburn's win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl? If that's you, then you have a competitive edge you want to keep sharp. You've watched decades of professional sports, years of ball games and matches, and it's not enough.
You need a contest that strips sport down to the bare essentials instead of teams to monitor on every play. You want to watch two opponents face off, but tennis doesn't work because it lacks players like John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. You want athletes fired up enough to scream at the judges and each other instead of bellowing fit-pumps like Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer. Or maybe you want players with easier names than Novak Djokovic. So you look across the sports spectrum.
Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA? Too violent and bloody. Boxing lost its luster with two huge Ukrainians sitting on top of the heavyweight division. These men are brothers who promised their mother they'd never fight each other. When mamochka replaces Don King as match maker, what do you do? Try this:
Find the athletic website for your local high school. Go to winter sports and find the wrestling page. Attend a match to see athletes with a burning desire to win, who compete as hard as humanly possible to get their arm raised. It's a small gesture, the arm raise, but it's everything in wrestling. It's the payoff for all the running and lifting and sweating it out.
The joy you'll see on the winner's face contrasts the despair on the loser's. It is the thrill of victory and agony of defeat match after match. If you're a smaller baby boomer you might identify with the smaller wrestlers. If you're a larger boomer, you've got large wrestlers. If you're a female boomer, you've got girls wrestling now.
With fitness as your goal, few athletes are in better shape than wrestlers. Modify your workout to match theirs. Cut a few pounds. If sports is your goal, you'll be able to participate in more games once you're as fit as a wrestler. What about baby boomers who want to step out on the mat for their Bucket List?
Yes, you can find senior level wrestling tournaments. Should you do it? This is one of those times where the Bucket List may interfere with your fitness and sports goals.
Proceed with caution, but proceed.
David Gillaspie is an active researcher, skills he honed during twenty years with the Oregon Historical Society. His education wavered between English major/Fiction writer at the University of Oregon where he met Ken Kesey, to a BS in History from Portland State with news writing. Married, with two millennial sons, he connects sports and fitness to the realities of baby boomer life, with no mention ever of skydiving or base-jumping. David covers a wide variety of fascinating topics on his boomer-centric blog, Boomer PDX. Check it out -- you'll be glad you did.