6'2"

Humor from on High

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Like Sports

A local radio show host likes to make fun of people who are obsessively compulsed to live and breath sports. Ironically, he works for a sports talk station, so make of that what you will. For an example, I invite you to listen to this classic rant. I never thought I was one of those people or rather, I never wanted to admit to being one of them. And here is the point in the story when you're waiting for me to tell you I AM in fact one of them. But it's not that simple.

Sports were thrust upon me at an early age. In fact, I believe I recieved perfect 6's for my double back with 1 1/2 twists out-of-the-womb-dive. My pike position was excellent. And having a dad that was a high school basketball star (one state title and two state title appearances) pretty much meant that I was going to be urged in that direction. When it turned out that I was freakishly tall on top of that, the story began to write itself for me. Now don't get me wrong, I was invested in playing basketball, soccer, baseball, and tennis all along, but in that way you "choose" as a kid where you're never totally aware of whether you are making the decision, or you are actually just being conned by your crafty parents.

Soccer, tennis, and baseball fell gradually to the wayside, but basketball persisted. Hair grew where there was none before. And a jump shot where there was none before. After having been one of the taller and therefore better players in grade school basketball leagues (a direct correlation), I fell back to the middle of the pack throughout junior high, but my genetic growth abnormalities eventually manifested just before my sophomore year and I was suddenly a literal big man on campus. Socially, not so big. I was frightened of females, in particular. And then it was off to the races, and basketball dominated my life for the next decade or so. So much so that I largely defined myself as a basketball player (as did others FOR me -- thanks a lot you stupid jerks).

Other sports crept in. I can't resist trying to master another sporting venture, or try to best my friends in something new, be it poker, golf, volleyball, tennis, lawn jarts, pool, jai alai, or full-contact wiffleball. Some sport loses its appeal, but another one inevitably captures my spirit. It's natural also, I have found, that when one gains an appreciation of a sport by having experienced it firsthand, watching it on TV or live as others play becomes much more appealing too. I never liked watching golf on TV before playing it and now you couldn't drag me from the TV when the Masters or U.S. Open is on. Before you know it, you're watching or playing something all the time, and there isn't time to do anything else. And in this way my life has gone for a very, very long time.

But recently the harsh reality has set in that I am no longer that reasonably coordinated and youthful competitor that I once was. I now have the body of an 85 yr old retired stuntman. Unfortunately, my brain hasn't realized that yet. It's broken, you see. And that has led to serious ego issues. The Star Tribune recently ran a series of stories about Kirby Puckett, and his life after being unable to play baseball anymore. In short, he thought not playing baseball anymore...oh, where is that quote? Ah yes, here it is, "It sucked." And he decided to fill the void with a not so healthy dose of double cheeseburgers and inactivity. You know how that turned out -- not so good. And while my metabolism has prevented me from getting that self-destructive, the void I feel is palpable. I now rely on golf, tennis, and volleyball to purge my competitive mana, while trying to ignore the urge to clad myself in white Izod polos that is associated with becoming (unintentionally) a country club athlete. But with the partial exception of volleyball, these are just no substitute for uber-competitive team sports that have been so integral in my life for such a long time.

So partly, I think, I have filled the void with sports viewing. And occassionally, sports photography. And most of all, sports criticism...of the curmudgeonly "back in my day" variety, usually. I hang out with the old teams and teammates. I talk about the good old days. I live vicariously through the youngins and the oldins that are still doing it. I try to make them remember I would've whooped them..you know...back when my knees worked. Talking trash is timeless, you see. I retire and retire and retire again, and intersperse each retirement with a matching comeback effort -- only to remember why the previous retirement occurred. But still, sports are a huge part of my life, and I know always will be.

But still I can't but feel cheated. Robbed. I'm not that old, after all. But borrelia burgdorferi took away at least a few good years and it's awfully hard to take out one's vengeance on a bacteria. Amoxicillin all up in your ass, bitch. Perhaps that's the true test of one's competitive spirit. Even when presented with an overwhelming amount of direct evidence to the contrary, you still think you can and need to do it like you once could.

Or maybe my brain is still not working properly.

10 Comments:

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Joe's Brother said...

The word ultimate appears 0 times in this post. Does this put you in the "ultimate is not a sport" boat?

 
At 11:33 AM, Blogger Kaiser said...

Excellent point. I was actually referring to ultimate with the "retire and retire and retire again" comment (and paragraph in general), but was relying on telepathy for that to be understood. Clearly, you have not the power.

And besides, something on ultimate is in the works or rather, on the back burner...

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger Kaiser said...

Also, check out the link to the photography. There are a brazillian photos of ultimate and zero of basketball -- so that should tell you something.

 
At 12:34 PM, Anonymous timmy930 said...

Ummm, when did you get a jumpshot?

 
At 12:37 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

This fall, I discovered retirement sucks.

Of course when you move away from a city with real ultimate...(I suppose it's theoretically possible that an AK coed team could make natties...if the folks up here weren't so, so, so Alaskan. Oh yeah, and if Jensen played for us, not you guys...)

 
At 12:38 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Ummm, when did you get a jumpshot?

One to talk, Timmuh?

 
At 2:50 AM, Blogger phil said...

please tell me that you didn't just describe playing for CUT as "other sports creeping in" sigh...

i like sports, too. i'm impressed by an athlete's willingness to publicly fail or succeed. you don't really see that in other environments - corporate, academic, etc.

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger Kaiser said...

Wow, the ultimate backlash continues. Sorry Phil, that wasn't exactly what I meant. Ultimate has certainly been a huge part of my life, and the inability to continue playing before I feel I reached my peak is certainly a huge part of the void I mentioned. In fact, I think ultimate represents a lot more that is good about sports and team sports, in particular, then even basketball and probably deserves its own post. It's just that hoops was elements of familiar obligation, connection to my youth, etc...that sort of make it my life-long sport and the one that I get defined by. Ie. "Hey, how tall are you? Do you play basketball?"

 
At 11:44 AM, Blogger Pooh said...

"No, I was going to be a jockey, but when I got too tall, I became a farrier instead"

 
At 9:08 AM, Blogger sometallskinnykid said...

Pooh- I never claimed to have a jumpshot. Although I have never met a shot I did not like...

 

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