By Jim Ostrowski
In thinking about the issue of the relative health of Trump and Hillary, my thoughts naturally were drawn to the topic of sports. Long before I became a political junkie, I was a jock, playing every sport imaginable. A health problem cut that short when I was 17 and when I recovered, I shifted my energies into politics with the exception of road racing. Years later, I coached my son’s baseball and basketball teams. It was a great experience to get back in the game of basketball especially.
Basketball was a religion when I grew up in South Buffalo. Sometimes I think that my life is an experiment in what happens to someone who spends much of his youth shooting baskets. The jury is still out I guess. Stardom never came but the work I put in had other benefits. Shooting baskets by yourself is a form of meditation that helps develop powers of concentration that would prove useful in later life. Having Carol King’s Tapestry on in the background didn’t hurt either. Concentration skills seem to be lacking in many young people today due to the greater number of distractions. Can basketball help?
I am huge booster of youth sports and still give an occasional basketball shooting clinic for grammar school boys and girls. These days, it is more important than ever to encourage young people to join one or more sports. This is particularly important for girls as studies have shown that early physical activity can provide life-long benefits to women. Both boys and girls benefit from sports in many ways including fitness and avoiding childhood obesity which carries an increased risk of diabetes. It also gets them off the darned electrical devices and tends to keep them away from drugs, booze and cigarettes. Not a single one of my boyhood jock friends ever smoked.
Speaking of drugs, permit me to digress for a moment. The Progressive State of America (PSA) has a huge drug problem and, progressivism being a self-imposed mental disability which prevents the progressive from seeing reality clearly, the PSA is clueless as to what to do about it. There is a trifecta of direct action solutions but all of them will drive the left crazy. First, sports. (The hard left finds sports annoying because they show that the left’s goal of making us all equal is a fantasy at war with reality.) Second, sorry Ivanka, don’t dump your kids into day care at three months old. Third, keep your kids out of the horrendous K-12 government schools. See my book Government Schools Are Bad for Your Kids for proof of the relationship between government schools and drug abuse. It’s amazing what happens when you shed progressive and leftist ideological blinders: you immediately see things more clearly and common sense solutions materialize almost instantly.
Back to sports. I remember the era when opportunities for girls in sports lagged far behind the boys and I think it’s a very positive development that there are ever more opportunities for girls to join sports at all levels of education.
I also belief that people give up on sports too early. I look back at my college years and wonder why I didn’t join a sport, even at the club level. I have seen people quit sports because they lacked the patience or the insight that everyone develops at a different pace. They say it takes ten years to get really good at anything but kids today think nothing of quitting after one or two seasons. Keep in mind what Washington said, “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” There are many tales of athletes who did not even play in high school excelling in college and the pros.
On the other hand, too many good athletes burn themselves out early, often because of pressure from coaches and parents who push them too hard and too fast. A one-league-at-a-time rule is a good policy. Participating in multiple sports throughout the year as opposed to just one is a good idea because it reduces the risk of injuries and burnout.
What does any of this have to with Trump and Hillary other than it’s a good excuse to talk sports for change? Why does Trump appear to be fitter than Hillary who is two years younger? I know nothing about their medical conditions but I firmly believe that youth sports have a life-long impact on your health and fitness. I am not in the best shape but I did hike up Mount Marcy a few years ago. Don’t believe the websites. It’s not a medium hike. It was very hard for me. Without the fitness base and toughness developed over many years of youth sports, there is no way I would have made it. The other day, I did a hike at Allegany that involved an elevation rise of 500 feet. At age 58, I was able to pass a few younger hikers on the way.
So, again, why does Trump appear to have more stamina than Hillary? Possibly because Trump was, so far as I can gather, involved in more sports and later in life than Hillary was. Apparently, Hillary was active in sports in grammar school but not thereafter. In contrast, Trump played in three sports in high school, baseball, football and soccer and was considered to be a very good athlete.
The other night, I attended a reunion at St. Joe’s for track and cross-country runners. Many of the men were in their early sixties and most looked really fit 45 years after they ran in high school. There is no doubt in my mind that youth sports have a long-term positive impact on health and fitness. This may explain why health has suddenly become a key issue in the presidential race.
Jim Ostrowski is a trial and appellate lawyer in Buffalo, NY. He is CEO of Libertymovement.org and author of several books including Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America. Copyright 2016 by Cazenovia Books.