Friday, January 23, 2009

Why I Never Excelled in Sports

There is no reason that I should like men’s college basketball as much as I do, I just do. A while back, I watched Oklahoma State and Texas battle through three overtimes until Mario Boggan of OSU finely outdid Texas’s freshman phenom Kevin Durant, icing the game when he sank a long, desperation shot with less than four seconds remaining on the clock. It was an exciting basketball game, and I have seen quite a few.

What makes my love for basketball so unlikely? As a kid, I was always the last person selected when Captains chose sides for baseball, football, etc. Well, unless my friend Rod was around.
I have an excuse, though. Near-sighted does not come close to explaining my vision. When I first got glasses in the fifth grade, I remember seeing the blackboard clearly for the first time in my life. Corrective lenses cured my vision problems but did nothing to enhance my depth perception, or should I say my lack of it.

Its hell standing in the outfield, tracking a baseball as it plummets from the sky toward you, hoping beyond hope that you will somehow snag it deftly with your trusty glove before it hits ten feet away. It’s even worse hell seeing the looks of derision on your teammate’s faces when you drop the ball and the winning scorer reaches home base, ending every chance of their pulling that elusive upset of the best team on the block. Hey, if you look up klutz in the dictionary, you will see my picture beside the definition.

I tried every sport: football, softball, basketball (when I tried out for the team in the fifth grade, the coach simply shook his head and frowned), track and field. Being a skinny kid, I was a good runner, but nothing special.

Why do I like basketball so much? My first three years at Northeast Louisiana the football team lost every game. My senior year, they tied a game. Basketball was different. When I was a freshman, the team went sixteen and three.

Every home game, sixteen-hundred or so fans and students would crowd into our painfully tiny gymnasium, and go crazy when five-foot-nine basketball legend Tommy Enloe started dunking balls. We never lost a home game and for about two hours, we basked in the team’s success and felt (pardon the cliché) like kings of the world.

Last night, watching first-year head Coach Sean Sutton almost faint after a particularly stressful play (I’m not kidding) I remembered that feeling. As Boggin’s winning basket swished through the net, it intensified even further. Hey, I am old, I am fat and blind as a bat, but at that moment, I was once again King of the World.

P.S. – Kudos to my old bud Rod. He was no athlete either, but he was one of the best and most intelligent persons I have ever met to this day, and he served his country well, and with pride, as an armored company captain during Vietnam. He is now a wine expert, living in Napa, California.

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