I think I firmly established in a previous entry that I really do not like sports, but I feel like I need to explain myself a bit better so that you can understand why I believe my dislike of sports is not without good reason.
For starters, I have always been a fairly overweight person, even as a child. Around the time I was in my “tween” years, some of the more common terms used to describe children of my particular build included: “stocky”, “heavy set”, or my personal favorite, “portly”. Ostensibly, these terms were meant to be less offensive than simply calling me a “lardass”, although I am not entirely certain that they were.
To make matters worse, at that age I also exhibited a level of grace and dexterity normally reserved for semi-tranquilized livestock.
In the picture here I don’t look quite as porcine as I remember, but you will notice that I didn’t exactly have six-pack abs either. You may also have noticed that, not only was my shirt a stomach-churning mustard color, but it also had logo on it that was large enough to be visible from space. The whole “lumbering butterball in pee-colored polyester” look was a real hit with the ladies.
But, despite these facts my parents forced me to play soccer, as you may have guessed from the picture. I know what they wanted. They wanted what all parents want for their kids. They wanted me to go make friends and be popular. But the fact is, even at that early stage of my life, I really didn’t like… well… people. But, I didn’t have much choice in the matter, so I donned the hideous uniform and went to my first practice.
When I met the coach, he — after instantly assessing me with a practiced eye — decided to assign me to the position of “Fullback”. I assume he figured my girth would block a fair potion of the goal. He then patiently explained to me what I needed to do. This amounted to:
- Watch the ball
- If the ball moves towards the goal, take it away from the guy kicking it
- Kick the ball away from the goal, and to another player (preferably one on our team)
These instructions were as simple as could possibly be. But, understanding them was not the problem here. The problem, in a nutshell, was that I sucked at soccer. It wasn’t long before I realized the only way that I could provide any real value to the team. And so I amended the coaches instructions as follows:
- Identify the best player on the opposing team
- Pretend to be trying to take the ball from them
- Slide-tackle them
Even simpler! One less step! Naturally, this always got me benched, but the way I looked at it, our team lost one shitty player, the opposing team lost one good player (because, trust me here… they weren’t getting up), and I got to sit down. Win, win, win!
As you may have guessed, my soccer career didn’t last long.
Now here I am, all grown up and with kids of my own. And as I subject them the same treatment, it makes me think about what sports is supposed to teach us. If the opposing team represents all the obstacles that block your way to success, and the goal represents… well… your goal. Then what I learned from my short, yet somehow disturbing brush with soccer was this:
“In order to reach your goals, you must avoid all obstacles. Some of these obstacles, however, are more nimble than you are (they probably have better ‘cleats’) and are therefore able to continually block your way. In those cases, obstacles seem to go down pretty fast when they take a shin guard to the groin.”
I know what you are thinking. Do obstacles even have groins? Rest assured, they do.
But that’s not my point. My point is that, for most parents, sports are all about teaching kids some sort of lesson. We all know the lessons that sports are supposed to teach our kids. Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Bravery, Compassion, etc. But, deep down inside, I think we also know that this is all a load of hooey.
Occasionally, when I suggest this, some sports zealot will point me towards a news story wherein one of these farcical lessons is embodied. Some tear-jerking story of compassion and sportsmanship where the player(s) sacrificed the game in order to “do the right thing”. Of course, if this happened as often as it should… it wouldn’t be “news”. But, these are sports fans we’re talking about here, and counter-arguments are only truly understood if they use small words… and are belched.
So, instead, I have come up with a few lessons that I believe sports really teaches our kids:
It’s not about winning? You really believe that bullshit? Right… Um, Losing blows. “It’s ok to fail” is a great moral to impart if you want your kid to grow up to be a carpenter. Not so great if you want them to be a test pilot.
No pain… no pain
This one seems fairly self explanatory. Pain sucks even more than losing.
Sports aren’t always healthy
Playing sports, generally, gets you into great shape. I get that, But I have many friends that are into sports, and let me tell you… they aren’t without their share of problems. For a comparison, let me list all the health-related problems that I can think of that my friends have had as a result of playing a sport, and then let me list the ones that I have as a result of not playing one.
Friends: Broken bones (just about any of them), knee surgery, concussion, many stitches, loss of a finger and loss of sight in one eye.
Me: I’m fat.
I think the data speaks for itself here.
Chicks dig athletes
A sad reality of life. Women seem to fall all over sports guys. Playing a sport well appears to be the human equivalent of having really vibrant plumage. At least I can say that I am in no worse shape than most of the popular sports figures of my high school days. And I don’t tell boring stories whenever anyone is around (I just blog about them).
I am sure I could come up with a few more if I tried hard enough. But those will have to do for now.
Hey… I am not suggesting that these lessons aren’t worth learning. Truthfully, I think they may actually prepare our kids for at least some of the harsher realities of life. I’m just saying that nobody I know has ever played a sport and come out of it as some sort of shining example of perfect morals. In fact, quite a few of them are narcissistic douche-nozzles.
So if you are a parent that is trying to provide your kids with a strong foundation of good old-fashioned American values, then I hope this entry has helped you realize that sports aren’t necessarily the answer.
If, however, you are a sports fan that is reading this because you are looking for some deeper meaning to apply to your hobby, then I probably lost you by the second paragraph when I used the word “ostensibly”.