Sloane Crosley: 'Get your contact sport fix by walking in the most crowded and intolerable part of town at rush hour'

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The one sport I ever played with any consistency is tennis, and the term "tennis team" is a ridiculous misnomer, surpassed only by "equestrian team". (Though, at least, the horse pitches in there.) I cannot name you one instance in which my fellow teammates reached their rackets across the doubles line to rescue a missed return, popping back into their own game with a wink and a nod as if to say "You'll get me next time". Nor have I seen swimmers do the 100m relay version of "get out and push". You can root for those on your team, but their fates do not rest on how enthusiastically you clap.

In that way, swimming and tennis are cynical sports. Come-into-the-world-alone-and-leave-it-alone sports. You'd think that solitary sports would be ideal for city life, but you'd be wrong, because it's prohibitively expensive to join a gym with a tennis court or a pool.

So what's a person to do if they want to do more than merely exercise? If they want a little competition along with the sweat? Easy. Find the most crowded and intolerable part of town (in our case, the stretch between Penn Station and Times Square) and walk through it at rush hour. Here you will find your contact sport fix in the form of tourists who wilfully refuse to acknowledge that anyone around them might not be impressed by the Hard Rock Café, which causes them to stop and gawk as if they have seen a spaceship with Tom Cruise's face painted on the side.

Try to find somewhere where the foot traffic ebbs and flows, where you feel alternatively like a salmon swimming upstream and like the stream itself. Have fun with it! Can you make this traffic light before it starts blinking? Can you guess which will be faster, the distracted mum of two or the man in the wheelchair? (The wheelchair wins.) Give yourself points for getting to the finish line early. Perhaps a nap or an ice-cream. Gear yourself up for tomorrow when you will again participate in one of the world's most complex and populated sporting activities of all time: city life.



Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello)

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