Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bodily Intelligence

I spent yesterday afternoon at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in Flushing, NY. It was hot (96 degrees), the food was expensive ($13 for a crepe and bottle of water), and it was crowded (30,000+ attendees). Yet, I had a great time.

Part of what is so great about the first few days of this annual tournament is that there are around 100 matches being played on 15 different courts. So you can wander from court to court and catch parts of as many matches as you want. I saw 5th sets (the final exciting set in a match) in four different matches. The photo above by Philip Hall is of Arnaud Clement reacting to a bad shot (he eventually won in a 5th set upset of 16th seed Carlos Baghdatis) from the U.S. Open official website.

What was so remarkable was seeing players up close. On the "back" courts behind Ashe Stadium, you can get so close as to be able to reach over the fence and touch the players. The athleticism is amazing. It's hard to fathom how hard they hit the ball and with such pinpoint accuracy.

Watching these matches reminded me of Howard Gardner's multiple kinds of intelligence. We normally think of intelligence as unidimensional (academic) but Gardner identifies 8 different kinds: bodily, interpersonal, verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, intrapersonal, visual/spatial, musical and naturalistic.

Too often we don't see ourselves as intelligent if we don't do well academically. However, as athletes demonstrate, you can be very successful using bodily intelligence. Most of us have several kinds of intelligence in varying measures. I wonder if "spiritual" intelligence should be added to the list...

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