Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Tragic History of Sports

This may surprise you all but I'm not very good at sports. That was actually a huge understatement. And this is probably the thing I am most self-conscious about in life (besides my foot disease). The thing is, I should be at least ok at sports. I'm in good shape. I work out every day. I'm young (relatively). I spent most of my childhood with all the neighborhood kids engaged in highly combative street hockey, football, baseball, and one really confusing game we invented involving bicycles which always ended in drama between all 10,000 kids on the block--fights which inevitably resolved themselves over night so play could resume the following day. In fact, I was once a scholarship collegiate athlete (but it was for distance running, which I'm excluding from the category of "sports" for purposes of this blog post and for the sake of avoiding the argument about whether running up and down hills and in circles is considered a sport, of which I stopped taking sides in 1947 when I finished college and moved on with my life). But the truth is, despite much of the exposure to sports as a child, I have a long tragic history of being absolutely terrible at any activity involving a ball. So what I would like to do today is give you all a rundown of my personal organized sports history:

1990-1991: Bob and Cathie enrolled me in a community t-ball league. It was a full calendar year before I realized that rounding the bases led to points. My parents have a picture somewhere of me with one hand behind my back grasping a half-eaten doughnut, the other hand holding onto a participation trophy (the only way I was ever going to get a sports trophy as a six year old). I am thoroughly convinced that of those two things, I was there for the one I was evidently trying to hide behind my back.

1992-1994: Machine Pitch. My only two memories of the experience were, 1. A kid got hit square in the face with the ball and bled all over the field and, rather than feeling any concern, I remember wondering whether he was on my team (because I had no idea--and no, it never occurred to me that my whole team was wearing the same uniform). As a result, I spent the rest of the season running to positions far in the outfield so that could never happen to me. Which leads to memory number 2. I was standing somewhere in the outfield and the ball landed literally within four feet of me. I thought it was a bird so I ignored it (let's face it, I wasn't paying attention). Another kid had to run halfway across the field to pick it up when I utterly ignored the screams from my coach and all 20 other teammates.
1995-1996: Soccer. My friends and I were all on a team together, self-named "The Jolly Green Giants" because of our bright green shirts. We lost every single game. I have more than one memory of sitting down with a friend on the field in the middle of play. Also, sometime during the season Danielle Diamond sprained my finger when I told her she kicked like a girl. I'll tell you what--she sure didn't fight like a girl.
1996-1997: Jr. Jazz Basketball. Obsessed with the NBA, this was a natural activity for me to be involved in and probably the first sporting event that I took seriously. Too bad I played on the same team for 2 years and never once scored a basket. Ever. Or did anything impressive at all, although I tried regularly and desperately. I still feel those same terrified feelings I used to feel every Saturday morning when I would wake up and realize that I was going to have to go play for an hour in front of a crowd of people if I think about it long enough.
1998: Jr. Jazz team 2. Thinking the experience would be more enjoyable, I joined a team with several friends. This was largely the same group that I played soccer with in '95. And unfortunately we weren't much better at basketball. But I did make a 3-point shot in the very last game of the season. Unfortunately it was an accident, magically going in when I tried to pass the ball to someone who was several feet away from the hoop (who I later realized wasn't even on my team). I think we still lost this game by 20+ though.
1998-2002: Cross Country and Track & Field. All I had to do was run. I never had to catch or throw anything. Sure I was terrible at running but it was nothing that several years of 2-a-day gruelling practices and border-line-abusive coaching couldn't fix. But I promised I wouldn't talk about this as an actual sport for purposes of this post. I only bring it up to account for the sudden halt in other athletic endeavors.
2005-2009: I spent a good portion of these years pretending to be busy when friends encouraged me to join intramural teams with them. I did take a tennis class sometime during this period that wasn't too disastrous. Although it was the beginner class. And I'm pretty sure I was the worst person in it, getting beat by the pregnant girl on more than one occasion (in my defense, I wasn't the only one who thought she belonged in the intermediate class. Plus she was only like 7 months pregnant. I would like to see her try and play me at 9 months).
So you can imagine how excited I was when my new ward invited me to come play softball last Tuesday night. After conveniently getting a phone call every time it was my turn up to bat for the first half of the game, I finally got pushed out to the plate. About half-way there I realized that I hadn't held a bat since I was about 11 years old and my neighborhood friends and I decided to start a pretend gang, in which my weapon of choice was baseball equipment (100% of our gang activity consisted of ringing doorbells and then pretending to fight in neighbors' front yards until we all lay dead on the grass. The neighbor would stand and watch and then awkwardly clap while slowly backing into the house. I think we were trying to get some message across that was never really clear to any of us). I swung once and hit the ball directly to the pitcher and made my walk of shame back to the team and then spent the next 4 days in emotional recovery. Is there anyone out there who can help me?

~It Just Gets Stranger 


  1. Hey... you beat me at raquetball! Haha, too bad I have no "athletic" ability either.

  2. oh... and I wasn't even pregnant when you beat me :)

  3. I feel your pain! I got talked into ward basketball a couple of months ago...there is a lady trying to get me to go to the softball games but I keep remembering Brea's missing teeth and a girl in a ward who had a black eye the whole season b/c she kept getting hit in the face!!!

  4. If it makes you feel any better, I don't think softball/baseball are real sports either. And I can commiserate. Unfortunately, I've always really wanted to excel in sports, and not been able to do it.

    I thought this was hilarious by the way.