I spent much of today in the presence of a bunch of young athletes making speeches. And I gotta say, unaccustomed as all of them were to public speaking, they blew me away with their insight, intelligence and unique perspective on the world.
We all have this preconceived notion of the dumb jock, a stereotype that's a staple in every teen TV show, movie and especially all those cheerleader flicks I used to catch at the Drive-In.
But today's experience got me thinking about my own high school athletic career -- which to be perfectly honest consisted mostly of going to Gym Class -- which every kid in my first year of high school detested.
This was not because Phys-Ed (as it was known back in the day) took place in some dank, musty gymnasium with flickering halogen lights and a drafty change room.
Nope, we had a brand new school with state of the art amenities. What made us hate it was -- along with your text books you had to buy a gym uniform, which consisted of really short white shorts, a white T-shirt with the school logo, sneakers and -- a jock strap, which none of the 14 year olds I hung out with had ever seen before.
The waitress at the Woolworth's lunch counter even yelled at us for pulling them from the boxes they came in to check them out while waiting for our post shopping burgers and cokes.
This "uniform" meant that not only did you have to get naked in front of a bunch of other guys twice a week when you had Phys-Ed (or four times because you had to get both in and out of your jock strap for each class); but you had to stay naked for 15 minutes at the end of the class while everybody crammed into a communal shower.
I guess this was the school's way of making sure we took at least two showers a week. But still...
On top of that, the Gym teacher was a guy who liked to yell a lot and clearly had interest in whatever he was supposed to be teaching because he had football or basketball plays to think up.
This changed about midway through the year, when the lady gym teacher took over to teach us some gymnastics. Not only did she know her stuff, she looked really good showing us how to do it. Although that meant there were some who had to take a little extra time to cool down before we hit the showers -- if you know what I mean.
But it turned out gymnastics was actually something I was good at and some of us even ended up doing presentations of "gymnastic skills" on Parents Nights or when somebody notable visited.
The Gym Lady, a real keener, wanted to start a team to compete with other schools. But somehow, that never happened and a year or so later, I was just too artsy and theatrical for that sort of thing -- and besides, the really cool guys didn't want to be thought of as jocks.
As coincidence would have it, one of the social media feeds I checked after today's revelation of the true nature of jocks included the video that follows.
And quite honestly, I can't imagine ever being this cool.
Enjoy Your Sunday.