THE ULTIMATE ATHLETE: Re-visioning Sports, Physical Education, and the Body by George Leonard

THE ULTIMATE ATHLETE: Re-visioning Sports, Physical Education, and the Body

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Leonard, long an Esalen guru and author of Education and Ecstasy, starts out with an easy target and a solid enough premise--castigating physical education programs that have created generations of athletic illiterates and arguing that sports can be consciousness expanding. The trouble is, none of this is any secret to his potential readers, at least since Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery (1953). And even if the average fan can't get a mystical high with Joe Namath, he knows that the man has something that isn't in the sports playbooks. Leonard found his own ""energy body"" through aikido, but not surprisingly, he is most enthusiastic about the workshops taught by himself and Robert Nadeau where one gets into the energy flow by perceiving reality as structure and intention, and through exercises such as ""mesh practice"" and ""dealing with pain."" Also recommended are the products of (Whole Earth) Stewart Brand's New Games Tournament, including ""infinity volleyball,"" ""environmental tag"" and ""mating"" (this last, a disappointment). Unable to confine himself to new trends in physical education, Leonard soars into speculation on the Game of Games, finding his Ultimate Athlete in Charles Lindbergh and defending man's innate drive toward risk-taking from such ""knee-jerk protectionism"" as mandatory air bags and seat harnesses. Of course much, maybe most, of what Leonard complains about is true. It's just that his prescriptions are facile--and sometimes stupid--and the aura of hyperventilated intellectualism makes this a particularly exhausting head trip.

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1975
Publisher: Viking