The amazing power of touch
By Joe Black | (email@example.com)
We have always referred to some sports as “contact sports.” For most of the history of this phrase, it was used to describe football. Surely it was applied to some other sports but most of them aren’t played around here.
Somewhere along the way, some creative writer (not me) started saying that basketball was a contact sport while football was a collision sport. That seems altogether correct.
I don’t think that anybody could watch a basketball game today and deny that it has become a contact sport. I would add that soccer is definitely a contact sport. Again, watch one and tell me that you disagree.
If you think about it, a lot of our sports involve some contact. Getting tagged out in baseball and softball. Collisions at the net in volleyball. Most definitely wrestling.
Most “individual” sports don’t have much contact though. Tennis doesn’t, for sure. Swimming, gymnastics, and golf — not at all. But then, most of the time those are also team sports and the teams sure do a lot of hugging and high-fiving and all.
But those truly individual pursuits — think Tiger Woods against the world — seem so lonely. You get beat and it is all on you. It seems such a lonely place. Maybe Tiger just needed more comforting hugs along the way.
We probably all need more hugging. We tend to underestimate The Power of Touch. I truly believe that a life without the physical contact of another human being is empty and hollow. I also happen to think that one of the great things about sport is the contact. I believe that physical contact on a playing field is part of the appeal of sport (but then, I’m more of a team sport kind of guy).
I see people routinely that just seem to need a hug. With that being said, I’m just not a hugger. I told the story here a couple of years ago that despite the fact that I’m in a profession that depends on touching, I am very careful about touching people.
That observation was misinterpreted that I don’t like touching. Not true. I just feel that it is an important part of the professionalism that my patients expect of me. I remember when one employee decided to quit work for us and stay home and keep her newborn. She got a hug from me and later expressed surprise at it.
Maybe what she got was more my true self.
I watch tiny Nicky Nick in the incubator in the NICU at Children’s and all I really want to do is to bundle him up and hold and rock and talk to him around the clock. Surely that would be the right thing to do, considering he was taken way too early from the comfort and warmth of his mother’s womb.
Alas, that’s not what medical science tells us that he needs. But for everybody else, it may be exactly what we need.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)