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Inspiring Peak Performance

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I've been thinking about what it takes to develop a balanced, well-rounded young adult. Prince William is in the news for making the classy, poised and assured Kate Middleton his wife. Bred to be King one day, William's preparation has been carefully planned—his formal education on a broad range of topics and his life experiences exquisitely choreographed. But, living a busy and structured life has not kept William from being a fine athlete; he excels at riflery, swimming, water polo and polo—a challenging and strenuous sport that combines crocket and soccer from the back of a charging steed.

I wonder if William knows how to work a TV remote. Does he play video games? The average American watches 4 hours of TV a day. Do the math: that is turning the keys of a life over to others for 10 years. If we continue on our current path there will be no need for programs to eliminate obesity; it will, rather, be encouraged.

Over the next couple of generations the human body will adapt to the needs of the day. People magazine will feature layouts of stars with rear-ends so large that they can be used as an oversized ottoman. Humans will never have to leave their seat—literally. Thumbs, the only appendage used, will grow to the size of a femur and proper society will demand they be kept clothed. Racy tabloids will feature scantily clad thumbs in various posed states of flex—all sinewy and muscle-bound.

I will be unapologetic in stating that I believe healthy development, especially for young boys, includes strenuous, outdoor, physical activity. We used to be an agrarian society and boys became men by the sweat of their brow: lifting, pulling, swinging an axe, digging, hiking, hunting and fishing. I'm a city boy, but I got in plenty of trouble staying out at the local park too late: running, jumping, climbing, throwing, catching, shooting a basketball and riding bikes. My neighborhood friends and I made up games to compete in basketball, football, and baseball if nothing organized was on the schedule. This after a long day at school with plenty of structured P.E. I couldn't gain weight if I wanted to—whatever I ate got burned off.

I understand that times have changed. It is not safe to let our kids go to the park alone (what a shame); two parents have to work to survive financially and both come home too exhausted to organize, attend or participate in sweaty play. The TV and video games become a welcome babysitter keeping the kids occupied and quiet for days at a time. They even forget to eat which lightens the domestic load. But is it worth the price? I am noticing a trend where too many boys lack even rudimentary coordination and cannot perform the most fundamental athletic skills: throwing, catching, shooting a ball, walking and chewing gum.

Not everyone has to be a jock, but everyone should be mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy. Take one component out and the whole being suffers. Intense physical activity stimulates the other elements. The ability to master fundamental skills teaches valuable life lessons: sacrifice, hard work, practice, practice and practice. Success breeds success and develops character.

Parents and Grandparents must sacrifice to provide opportunities for young boys and girls to develop and mature as complete, healthy persons. Mary and I used to meet each other coming and going from our kids' activities—seemingly never a break until they left home. But they left with skills, confidence and character. There is something innately inspiring about the graceful, powerful movements of a conditioned and coordinated athlete. For the average person natural coordination opens limitless possibilities for healthy outdoor activities from skeet shooting to skiing and everything in-between.

Coordination—lets demand our kids get some!