As a elementary-school kid I attended a public school where, due a lack of funding (or perhaps a lack of curricular will), non-academic classes like art or PE were not so much a systematic education in the riches of life to be found outside textbooks as they were a sporadic ritual meant to keep these subjects from fading entirely into oblivion. I was a fearful and reticent child, unwilling to participate in any physical activity more strenuous than Hide and Seek, but, though I routinely hid myself in right field to avoid all the action, no one seemed willing to fail me at kickball.
In seventh grade I started at Green Fields, where PE meant uniforms and weightlifting equipment and organized sports whose rules I’d never learned in a pickup game or club league, as other kids had. I was expected to make an effort, expected to demonstrate a good attitude, expected to succeed. It was a nightmare.