Play, Sports, and Running with Friends


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Dr. Ken Stewart begins with his earliest recollections of playing with friends who lived in his neighborhood in a small cotton mill town in North Carolina. His enjoyment of playful competitions in cornstalk wars and sword fights turned into pick-up games of tennis, races against peers in the swimming pool, and touch football games in the town park. As a small high school freshman, he tried out for basketball, football, and baseball and, in the end, earned thirteen letters in high school. As Stewart sees it, his work ethic in practice led to greater acceptance by his peers and the development of a strong relationship with his high school coach. Through sports, he began to feel more socially accepted despite many self-doubts and a sense of social inferiority. At Duke, Stewart participated in intramural basketball competitions and was on their track team as a sophomore. He discontinued track because of the academic realities of a change in major to psychology in his junior year. After decades of little or no physical exercise, he began running for health and weight control reasons in 1973 at age 40. That decision led to better work stress management and the many enjoyable events he experienced “running with friends” for over 32 years.