A gentle, loving, social soul suddenly becomes a raging fireball of aggression. A soft-spoken, shy corporate girl scatters all in her path to the ball or home plate. A lean slightly built sportsperson roars in triumph after smashing a ball into the floor on the opponent’s side of the net.

Is it only the young, who haven’t learnt the control mechanisms of the old hands, who seem to lose control in the sporting arena? Perhaps it is a lack of quality role models, or a learned behaviour that has been unchecked by referees (though this is generally a thing of the past).

A sporting venue is a microcosm of society itself. It is up to the participant to choose the type of society in which to participate. In the real world this luxury is denied to 90% of the global population. Our choices are influenced by genetics, society, location and familial experiences. Unable to choose some of the variables -“ what our parents played or consider acceptable, where we are born, where we live and the community sporting experiences available, and to a certain extent the peer group in which we are raised -“ our choice is partially made on our behalf.

This may be seen in the short basketballer who chose parents that were too small for her choice of sport, the talented 1.90m gymnast who will always find it hard to win Olympic gold because his rotation is slower than that of shorter peers, or the slightly built AFL player whose parents placed him in the only sport available in the region he grew up in and he hates the bullish mentality of a contact sport.

A fortunate few have the correct blend of well-chosen parents that predisposes them to a sport for which they are well-suited, a local society that values participation both at school and at a club level of the selected sport along with the wisdom of parents who nurture their offspring on an individual basis in spite of personal preferences.

If your mind turns instantly to springboard diving, gymnastics or dance, it is probable that you would hate the pack and scrum of a contact sport. Your choice of an aesthetic sport suggests you are more of an individual sportsperson than a team player. You prefer tennis to hockey, bowling to netball, and running over baseball.

On the other side of the scale are the team sports, ranging from non-contact to boxing or wrestling. There are gentler team sports, ones for winter only, those for indoors and those for the beach; it is the choice of sport that will determine your satisfaction from it.

Leaving Utopia, the gay sports person is either the ball-breaking dyke or the nancy queen, or a closeted teen who craves true recognition of who they are, including their sexual preference. School or community experiences often drive gay and lesbian sportspeople away from participation in adult life.

Personal preference for athleticism, equipment, or location guides people in the direction of the microcosm suited to their psyche and physical build, and perhaps remnants of dormant primary school talent.

Team Sydney is the doorway to participation in a wide variety of sporting clubs for all abilities, age and genders. Get out to play: www.teamsydney.org.au.

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