sunrise over the ballpark
There's nothing more gladdening to see than the particular smile that my middle daughter has when she's playing softball - particularly the smile after she has hit a triple and caught a couple of long balls in the outfield.
In one degree or another, I have seen this look of joy and exhilaration on the faces of all of my children in the context of athletic events. For A. it is a celebratory joy of both laughter and sheer fun; for T. it is the unbridled release of all physical constraints - she literally throws herself into the game; for S. the ultimate joy (pun intended - he's an ultimate frisbee player) is being part of a team, joy in the beauty of synchronized success in companionship with a cohesive group of friends. And for everyone, there is that celebration of feeling one's body respond to our commands, the thrill of physical success - bones, muscle, sinew, neurons, working together to perform great feats. At least they can feel like great feats to the user, at whatever level.
There are still moments when I can achieve that transcendant elevation of being in sport. A moment on the tennis court, swimming across a lake, hiking. But certainly caution and creaking are more prevalent than wild abandon as I approach the onset of my sixth decade. That may be why adults love to watch sports so much. Sometimes, when you are watching an athlete perform his or her seemingly gravity-defying moves, or even when you watch a pre-schooler sprinting in gleeful circles around a soccer field, face to the sky, you are transported with them into that space of the pure joy of being.