Regulars and Shorts, Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Not Lazy After All These Years

By Dennis Hinkamp

There should be some sort of 12-step program for playing sports.

They are like a drug. Just about everything good, bad, meaningful, painful, exhilarating, embarrassing and worthless in my life, I can trace to participating in sports. I feel like I should be sending letters of apology to everyone I have hurt or neglected in the process and be giving in to a higher power; but no, everyone keeps telling me it’s a positive addiction.

I guess so. I can quit any time I want. In fact, I have quit hundreds of times. It started in my early teens when all my friends were doing it. Now it is 40 years later, and so many of those friends’ have after-market body parts, injuries and a myriad of health maladies and mental malaise. Some have had cancer, some passed away long before their time, and it is starting to feel a little lonely.

No doubt I have spent more medical insurance money on sports injuries than I would have if I let myself become a couch potato diabetic. I know too well from friends’ passing that diet and exercise are no guarantee of perfect health, but I remain adamant that I do it because it makes me live better even if not longer.

Yeah, all addicts have a bucket load of rationalizations.

I only bring this up because I just got back from the 25th Annual Geezer Games in St. George; better known as the Huntsman World Senior Games. I realize the “world” part is a bit of a stretch because other than a couple dozen Canadi­ans, one Russian and a few Barbadians the world mainly ignores this event. That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of fellow sport junkies like me from around the West participating in everything from the triathlon to bridge. Yes, bridge. I guess if ESPN can televise the World Series of Poker, bridge can qualify as a card sport for the aged.

People still get stuck on the word senior, in the same way nobody even wants to admit to middle age. It is a somewhat embarrassing word, but so is plain ol’ old.  Maybe we just need to take back the word geezer with the same pride computer nerds have employed by taking back the word geek.

Look at it this way; you’re going to be pretty invincible when you enter events as a geezer; if the kids beat you it’s because they were supposed to. Anyone you beat who is younger than you is put to shame. The chance that anyone older than you is going to beat you diminishes with every year. I learned this from my mentor who used to say “Hey, I’ve got socks older than you.” Some­times he would actually be wearing them.u

Dennis Hinkamp won the triathlon in the 55-59 age group at this year’s Geezer Games. 

This article was originally published on October 31, 2011.