“Sports is human life in microcosm. ~Howard Cosell
The man knew he was talking about. There’s something about sports that brings out the real animal in all of us, those real desires, the competitiveness, the desire to prove something–you know, that thing called character. Someone once said to me that if I wanted to know how someone was outside of their nicely painted on social facades, I should invite them to play something. I still hold on to that. You can tell a lot about people when they’re trying to win. Trust me. You learn things. About them and yourself. Sports can teach you real life shit.
And I would know. There has not been a sport I have come across that I have said no to. Football, Rugby, Soccer, Badminton, Volleyball, Basketball; I have tried all of them. That’s what I do: I try things. At least once, and in the case of these, at least one semester! In most of these. Sometimes I damage my wrist (volleyball), throw out my back (rugby), get a black eye (basketball), tear every tendon in my ankle (basketball), break teeth (basketball), or jam fingers that no longer look like those of the delicate well-kept lady that my mother probably hoped I would be (basketball). But, here’s the thing i learned: I don’t stop.
That’s my thing. I’m not a quitter. Im a shuffler, a waffler, a drag my feet in the mud type complainer. Occasionally, I’m also a declarer of “I quit” but here’s the kicker–I don’t quit. I can’t.
See, I still play basketball. Despite the assortment of injuries. The tendons I tore in my ankle led to me writhing in pain on the driveway, a month a half in crutches, and a fantastic barometer of weather–I can always tell when it’s going to rain. Yes, I’m that person.
And yet, I play. Badly, I fear. Passably, I hope. But I tie up those LeBrons and trudge on over to the court every Wednesday and Saturday night for an evening of exhilaration and soreness. Often, I achieve little more than the realization that I am short. I mean, I could tower over Mugsby Bogues (sort of) but really, I was not meant to play among the 6-foot 20-something year olds that fly around the court while I huff and puff up and down, vowing to start training. Tomorrow. No, the next day. No, tomorrow. Need to be in better shape, you know, to play basketball. Exercise to exercise. I add layers to the game, son.
This happens to me everywhere. This writing thing, for example. That was me this week. Not having written for two weeks, I was like a rusty clock mechanism when I sat down at the computer. Creaks, groans, the whoel shebang. It was like stepping foot into a sport after a very long time. Every muscle hurt. Every idea I had was shit (take that Bradbury). But, slowly, as I shuffled and complained and told K.K that she might have been right and maybe I had bitten off way more than I could chew, I kept typing away and before I knew it, words were pouring out, and hours were whizzing by and I had forgotten all about school pickup and and all those other pesky life things and all I wanted was to find out why this goddamned kid in my story wanted the approval of his friends so badly.
Needless to say the clock hanging over my head was the motivator. Counting down the hours, shuffling, twisting, turning, trying to beat that timer. When I was younger I wouldn’t have labelled myself as being competitive. But who am I kdding? I compete even against myself. I did this week. And I won. And that small matter of those two stories I still owe? Yeahhhhhh…that will happen. Maybe in December? When my shot has gotten real good. After all, need to to train for that kind of speed.