Tuesday, September 21, 2010

march madness

Whenever I tend to feel like a failure, I remind myself that it could always be worse.
During middle school, I made a very misguided decision to start playing basketball. It was a short-lived and horrific basketball season.

By then, I had achieved a height of four feet, wore thick glasses, and had no concept of athleticism. My only knowledge of basketball came from watching Space Jam during after school daycare, and even then I was pretty sure that Michael Jackson was the name of the lead. I'd heard he could also sing some.

My mother had already recognized my lack of sports ability. A pragmatist,she didn't see the point in wasting my time in encouraging something I didn't have, so she had failed to introduce my brother or me to any form of physical activity. (Well she made a mistake on him, the athletic overachiever that he is).

She bought us a basketball to play with when I’d told her I needed to practice, but neglected to install a hoop because it was too expensive. And you know, how necessary is a hoop in basketball anyway.

But being resourceful, we noticed a cluster of odd colored bricks on the wall above the garage, and figured it was a lucky coincidence - it could be our target.
So we spent our afternoons throwing the ball against the side of the house, aiming for the trio of bricks above the garage.

I was very dutiful during practice, running when the coach told us to run, tossing up the basketball for lay-ups. I remember feeling like it was such a pointless exercise, running back and forth. The coach only ever yelled two things, “Pivot!” and “Backboard!” And I had no idea what either instruction meant.

As no one bothered to explain the rules to me, I learned from trial and error. No running while carrying the ball. it was cheating to stop and then run and start dribbling again. Pushing and tackling - illegal.

I was a starter on the team so needless to say, most of our games were a failure. I don’t remember winning a single one, or even making a basket. The only thing I was somewhat good at was defense. I was good at knocking people over, and that was mostly an accidental skill. Already being low to the ground, people tended to trip over me.
The one time I did have the ball - after tripping a poor giant of a girl, my own teammate took it away from me. I'd been running the wrong way.
So when facing failure I think of basketball. It can't be as bad as that.