Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why I Play That Way

I rolled my ankle last Tuesday playing basketball. I was guarding a black guy who's at least my height and a good 20-30 pounds heavier than me. He attempted to shoot, but I went up too and STUFF - I flat out rejected his shot. Now, before I go sounding like a braggart, let me say that I generally suck at basketball and I'm definitely and consistently the worst player on the court (half-court actually). HOWEVER, I'm getting better. Slowly, ever so slowly, I'm getting a little better at a time.

Anyway, back to the story. The block that I executed felt really good. It was the first time that I had encountered the feeling and I certainly liked it. But it also emboldened my opponent (Percy is his name). He retrieved the ball again after I blocked it and now he had a new resolve to push his way to the basket for the shot. So he drove, and I resisted. Then he went up to shoot and I jumped up with him again.

I didn't block it this time though, and to be honest I don't even know if it went in. All I know is that when I landed my left foot rolled sideways and I dropped to my butt. It's not too bad, probably just a sprain or pull. In fact, I expect the limp to subside sufficiently to play again next week. Maybe I should get high-tops (instead of general cross-training shoes) first though.

But here is the rest of the story, the introspective part. After explaining my limp to a co-worker who used to play ball, he said "That's why I don't play anymore". I thought about that statement for a little while, I came to this conclusion. That's why I do play. Not to get injured mind you, but because there's a risk of injury. It's a contact sport, with pushing and muscling and driving and jumping. There's a risk of not only twisting my ankle, but getting my ribs bruised, my chin elbowed (that happened to me before), and whatever else.

Perhaps it's worth repeating that I don't want to get injured, but I like testing my strength. I like the feeling of exercising my will against another man's, of trying so outsmart and outmaneuver him and vice-versa, even though I regularly am on the losing end of the battle. And I like the fact that there's risk and contact involved, that it's not like tennis or golf where opponents have a safe distance between each other. And if I get injured, at least I have a good, manly reason for my limp.

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