Sunday, October 18, 2020

Socially Distanced Contact Sport?

 Yesterday, I went to my volunteer coaching gig, with a sort of prop, a sadly deflated old basketball I borrowed from my neighbor Georgie,  who has a knack for destroying balls.  The plan was to use the ball as a proxy target, standing in for the feet that we sweep in several judo throws.  The sad shape in which I found the ball was a boon, I didn't want anything that would roll far.  We formed the kids into a circle and we passed the ball around using our sweeping techniques.  At one point, a six year old girl who hadn't studied with us raised her hand.

"Yes, young lady, what is your question?"

"Is this a real sport?"

In the back of my mind, I thought, "Not this year, kiddo, not this year."  As my actual response, I turned to my great and good friend Frenchie (the man who took my profile picture, who is, of course, Italian) and we decided to break the social distancing mandate for a while in order to show the kids what the sport is all about.  We went through the throws we were mimicking with the ball, the o-soto-garis, the ko-uchi-garis and o-uchi-garis, the de-ashi-barais... this allowed us to seque into ukemi, the techniques we apply to fall without injury.  

We spent quite a bit of time falling and rolling, on a soccer field rather than the mats we usually work out on.  Even as I rolled and slapped the ground, I kept on thinking, "You're going to feel this tomorrow."  Yeah, today involved a couple of aspirin and a nigh-scalding shower before I was functional enough to head to work.

After our classes in this not-quite-sport-no-not-this-year, we met with the two heads of the program and conferred about the rest of the semester, and probably year... with the colder weather coming upon us, and the impossibilities of social distancing indoors, and the unfeasibility of disinfecting equipment between classes, next Saturday is going to be our last session for the duration of our current crisis.  We typically run twenty weeks from October to March, this year we experimented with an eight week September to October session.  We worked hard, and we succeeded, but COVID is a bigger enemy than we are equipped to handle.

One thought that has been in the back of my mind for a year is 'don't be that guy'.  Last year, when an artistic director wanted to bring lanterns into one of our buildings, it was 'don't be that guy who is working when the building catches fire'.  This year it's 'don't be the guy who spreads COVID-19 to twenty or thirty six year-olds'.  We can't socially distance a contact sport, gimmicks and props notwithstanding.   I haven't set foot in a dojo since March 10th, the soccer pitch judo was an expedient, a somewhat soreness-inducing one, but the experiment has run its course.  Next Saturday will be melancholy, but the right choice is to go on hiatus, or in this case you could call it medical leave.


Ali Redford said...

I'm so sorry this has worked out like this for you, and for the kiddoes. I hope it's not too hard a wrench for you, but it's gonna hurt at least a bit now and then. The same thing has happened with our after-school programs here; they're just not feasible at this time, and there's nothing for it but to not do it. Here's to a new government that's prepared to improve things.

StringOnAStick said...

You did the right thing with the demonstration (because little kids get visuals), and you are doing the right thing by calling a halt to classes until, well, until we're out of this mess.

I'm looking at Covid as a bit like X-Ray exposure. So far the data show that the amount of virus inhaled or ingested determines how intense the infection is, just as the occasional X-Ray has specific diagnostic needs that supersede the very minor risk from the exposure amount. Nuclear bomb level radiation exposure is obviously bad. Where my analogy breaks down is you can see a mushroom cloud and hear the blast, but a person in the early stages who is shedding virus like crazy just looks like anyone else.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Oh, Ali, we had a pretty good run under the circumstances. It was good seeing the kids and the other coaches, and truly an experience to be playing this sport of ours outside. We'll regroup when things get better, as they must.

Yeah, SonaS, the demonstration was also an opportunity to actually tussle for a bit, the first time we played since March, before the world ended. Regarding the virus, one of our soccer coaches, Handsome Johnny C, tested positive for antibodies but never had symptoms. He's in his sixties, but he's run multiple marathons, even several in one year when he was at his peak. It's a mystery, and an enigma, and a horrorshow.