A lucky injury? A strange thing to say – but I received a lower back injury that still affects me sometimes today. This is what happened.
In the late Summer of 1959, the noise told me that a friend had got into serious difficulties with the Bench Press exercise. He was only just able to keep the heavy bar from pressing down on his throat and he was weakening fast. I was the only one around. I ran to him and lifted the bar quickly to remove the danger. Thankfully he was OK. I, however, had seriously damaged my lower back. I had to have complete bed rest for quite a while. The bed was even supported by a board. So why was it lucky?
This was my Ordinary Level G.C.E. school year. The injury would remove many of my normal sporting distractions. Gone! When I returned to school, I was excused all physical activity for the Autumn Term. However, I was able to concentrate more on my school work! Looking back at my report book, my good progress compared to the previous year was there for me to see. This improvement gave me more “work confidence” and taught me a lesson. I had been spending too much time on non-academic matters and had not been paying proper attention to my current personal responsibilities. There must be a balance!
The injury had really affected me in terms of my view of sport. How? That School Year I did not play Rugby until late in Term 2, about 6 months after the injury. I played in the House Rugby Matches and for the School Second XV. I also turned out for the Cricket Second XI and the School Athletics Team but not in the Regional Meetings. I also took part in House Swimming and Basketball. Everything was toned down. I was very worried that the injury might happen again.
However! I really enjoyed the feeling of “pressure off”. I would estimate that the majority of boys I met at this “new level” felt the same as me. Weight and running training did not seem to be as necessary – if at all. It was very noticeable how quickly my general muscle tone and strength became, to some degree, diminished.
Later, when I was playing rugby as an adult, many players in the clubs’ “lower ranked” teams simply turned up on Saturdays. Win or lose they enjoyed the game, the pint and the chat. They went home, got on with their lives and came back the next Saturday. They were happy with their level of involvement in sport.
Take part in sport but do so at a level at which you are really at ease? Not everyone will agree with this. I refer to Golf. To do well, there is often a lot of luck needed. It’s nice to get pars or birdies and to win money or trophies but sometimes those things just happen anyway on the day. If that were not the case, why can’t golfers do it every time? It is not necessary to always compete and perhaps spoil the day. Enjoy the walk, the talk and the friendship. Perhaps even vary the number of holes you play in tune with how you feel and, as the old saying has it, “smell the flowers along the way“.