Health and Fitness: Golf or Basketball?
To Tee Or Not To Tee
Athletic activity has been a vital part of my life since my earliest memories. In my youth, I participated in a variety of organized sports, ranging from Little League baseball to P.A.L. boxing. I hold dear the clear memories of yielding to the sudden and irresistible urge to run I was occasionally stricken with. I would just dash off, fully clothed and in regular street shoes, to the nearest beach and return to town exhausted, yet happy and fulfilled. These days, however, with time management and responsibility playing leading roles in my thoughts, it's a rare instance when I can allow myself the luxury of submitting to these ever-decreasing impulses. The good news is that, through the years, I've managed to cultivate a lifestyle that incorporates regular exercise. I work out most every day, and I've learned to balance my need for strenuous physical activity with the time constraints I'm forced to acknowledge.
This balancing act is not always easy. Once in a while, a friend will call and suggest a round of golf as a means to enjoying some camaraderie. Some of my acquaintances consider this a good way of keeping in touch with old friends, while at the same time profiting from the exercise. You see, they too must manage their time, and they like the idea of killing two birds with one stone. They may never mention it, but I know that in the backs of their minds they really plan to kill three birds, since they fully intend to suck down a brewsky or two at every tee. What a deal!
While I'm always happy to hear from my friends and agree that playing a round of golf is a terrific way of keeping in touch with buddies that might otherwise become good old long-lost friends, I often wish they would instead propose a game of basketball as a way to spend some time together. It would be a much better investment of our time, as I find myself having to chose between my health, my friendships and my other commitments.
I concede that it's healthy for a body to walk the fairways and swing a golf club for four hours or so (as compared to sitting in front of the boob-tube while stuffing the face with potato chips and beer), but let's face it, four leisurely hours of golf is nothing compared to thirty heart-pounding, muscle-straining minutes of basketball.
While golf demands a great deal of practice and skill to master and is very entertaining to play, the same can be said of basketball. It might also be said that golf has the advantage of being played in the great outdoors, with fresh air, blue skies and lush, verdant landscapes for a setting, but I usually play basketball outdoors and the greatest difference is that the court itself is not grass. The only real advantage that golf has over basketball is that its leisurely pace does indeed provide a good opportunity for discussion, and it is for this reason that the local clubhouse has become a meeting place for the business community. This is only a slight advantage, however, and it's this leisurely quality that ultimately makes golf such a poor investment of time.
Golf is physically effortless for me, therefore unrewarding. I derive almost no health benefits from playing it. It taxes neither my muscular, pulmonary, nor cardiovascular systems. It's just too easy on the body. I can play the game for several hours and not get tired at all, and, unless it's a particularly hot day, I won't even break a sweat. On the other hand, basketball takes me to the limits of my endurance in a matter of minutes. My heart pounds, my lungs burn and my muscles scream as I soak in sweat within just a fraction of the time it takes me to play a round of golf. Basketball imposes tremendous demands upon my body, and it's by virtue of these demands that it delivers wonderful dividends.
That's What I'm Talkin' AbOUUT
Another reason I often turn down the invitations to golf is that it can be quite costly. There's a reason why golf is commonly thought of as an elitist activity; the amount of money that can be spent on this game is obscene. The tees and balls must be bought (the way I play golf, we're talking about a lot of balls), and even if the rest of the equipment is only rented, that rental added to the cost of using the course adds up to quite a few bucks. This expense is absorbed every time the game is played. There's a one time expense to basketball. A relatively inexpensive (and hard to lose) basketball will last a long time, and there are free public courts all over town to play on.
It's also much more cost effective, in terms of time, to play basketball instead of golf. A basketball court can be found just a short walking distance from most anywhere in town, whereas golf courses, by necessity, are situated in out-of-the-way locations. So, it takes time just to get to the golf course, and once there, the real investment is made. On an eighteen-hole course, depending on how busy the course is, the number of players and their skill level, we could be talking up to six hours. This can be cut down to under two hours on a nine-hole, par-three course, but this is still considerably greater than the time required for a pick up game of basketball.
On occasion, I gratefully accept a friend's invitation to join him for a round of golf. If so, it's for the benefits that friendship has to offer. I may even take up golf on a regular basis some day and leave the rigors of basketball behind. If and when this happens, it'll be only after I've seen my life's work completed, and lugging my golf clubs around is all that my old bones can handle. I can't imagine this happening for another forty years, and until then, I just have better ways of spending my time.