Earth Journal:

For Better or Worse, Everything's Hopping

by Mark Burns

Springtime's here, and my family's on its way to the hospital.

It's warm and sunny out, and we've been drawn from our homes to enjoy the outdoors. Shedding winter clothes, we slip into our shorts and sneakers and T-shirts and get active. Our gathered family totals 10 and of these, eight will join the games. This makes for easily divided teams and the inevitable team sport. Before you know it, the football, baseball, basketball and soccer ball make their way out of storage one by one.

Judging by Easter weekend, we'll be lucky to get through the season. The football was the first ball out of storage and already we're suffering. My 34-year-old brother has started the season with an inner ear infection which caused him to catch and throw like a five-year-old novice. My nine-year-old niece jammed her finger on a pass. After I caught a pass in a painful place, I sprained my ankle on an interception and landed on my 11-year old nephew, bruising his wrist. As my immobile brother watched, the family was dropping like Redskins.

We haven't even gotten past the first sport yet. Baseball is still to come, and history tells us that this ball is what we should really be afraid of. I've been knocked out by line drives, my dad's had the wind knocked out of him and my brother has been incapacitated by a liner to the groin. Not to be ignored are the dangers of broken bats strewn by my brother-in-law or brush-offs hurled by my nephew and sister-in-law. She is the woman who leapt across the table at my brother during a game of Pictionary.

Our family hasn't a single jock. To reduce injuries, we've made gradual modifications, like substituting tennis balls for baseballs, Nerf for Wilson, Nintendo for real life. We make it an unspoken rule not to play any sport in which everybody is waving a stick (After one game of hockey, our family would probably make the Capitals look like the poster team for the American Dental Association.)

Even for all these precautions, injury finds its way into our fold. Whenever our family joins in wholesome outdoor fun, somebody gets hurt; this is probably why we don't have any lawn darts. You invent the sport; we'll manage to injure ourselves in it.

My brother's family has gone home and we're back to three. I guess I better get my ankle set for next weekend when my sister's family arrives. When she comes we do home improvement, and that's a whole new can of worms.


Burns, a second-year-student at the community colleges of Charles and Calvert Counties, interns at NBT.

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VolumeVI Number 15
April 16-22, 1997
New Bay Times

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