“War is hell” is a cliche as old as conflict itself. Yet counter-intuitive as it may seem to those who only view it from a distance, many a veteran yearns for that hell once they have returned to the heaven they thought they left back home. Not because they reveled in the danger and adrenaline of the battlefield, or discovered glory in the killing of the enemy. Rather, it was the camaraderie, the brother/sisterhood, the all-in-it-together, none-to-tease-out quality of their service they missed.
Athletics lends itself to that quality of bonding, too. You can see it in the nervous shaking out of muscles as athletes settle into their starting blocks, in the deep anxious breaths before they are called to the set position, and then in the post-race touching of hands as competitors acknowledge the realm from which they have just returned, the inner sanctum of purposeful effort. (more…)