I’m an athlete, and at my age, 54, I’m still fast.
I’m hard to get the better of me on a soccer field – I go to the gym, lift weights, ride a bike and a skateboard. But ne thing I don’t do is play basketball, and I can only remember one period in my life when I did – that was as a kid. Dad nailed a hoop to the garage and me, my brother, and the neighborhood kids would play in our driveway.
But here’s something you should know: the game the rest of us were playing was nothing like the one my little brother played. He was leaps and bounds ahead of us – figuratively and literally. If Brian wanted to take the ball from you, he could. If he wanted to score on you he could. It was weird – frustratingly weird – for me, an athletic kid, to be part of a game where, because of the far-above-average level of play by an opponent, I felt like ‘what’s the point?’
Unless I was on his team, then the drill was, get the ball to Brian and he’ll score.
After those afternoons on our driveway court, I stuck to sports I got more payoff from. Football? Great. Baseball? Sure. Soccer? You bet. But, whether I was aware of the reason or not, I began avoiding basketball.
Fast forward a few years to me in the Air Force: my unit had a basketball team, as most units on base did, which I had no desire to be a part of. But here’s the funny thing about the military: they don’t often factor your desires into their plans. It was made clear to me that everybody tries out for the team – everybody. But I didn’t want to play basketball. I argued that I was already on the Base Soccer Team, but to no avail.
So here’s where I went with it: I asked if they had a coach? Well, no, not yet, but they were sure one (older, more experienced in basketball strategy and drills and nuances) would show up.
I asked for the job.
And, I’m still not quite sure why, they gave it to me.
So on game night I’d dress up in a jacket and tie, stand on the sidelines with clipboard in hand, and “coach”. Which was really kind of funny ’cause these guys knew exactly how to play, and they were good (really good) and usually blew the other team out.
As I watched idly by.
I’m an athlete, but maybe every now and then the better gig is spectating.