For a lot of my life, mostly while I was in school, I played a sport. I can say I have nine, arguably eight, sports under my belt. They are as follows:
- Jiu-jitsu (does this count?)
Why did I play sports? Why does anyone?
Now, other people may have different reasons like it’s all they were good at. There’s even the rare, “I think it’s fun,” person who genuinely means it. There’s always at least one. And some dreamed of making it big. I just dreamed of something to do beyond being alone in my room, which is something I inevitably found myself doing anyway.
But it’s a complicated question. They both are. First of all, unlike many of my friends, my parents never made me play, with exception to football where they forced me not to quit. I never fully enjoyed sports, but I didn’t hate them either. There are two reasons why I really played sports: 1. I liked competition, or I thought I did, 2. It would help me to fit in.
How does this tie in with creativity?
I would like to say something nice about how sports contributed to team activities and being an acceptable member of society, but, honestly, I’ve got nothing. I do a lot on my own. I’m a bit of a loner. I never really felt like I belonged, not completely.
I will admit that it seemed to somewhat benefit my ability to create though. Specifically, with football in the eighth grade.
Everyone was doing it. Football, that is. I played for the Woodland Middle School team. We were the Wildcats. Very original. Typically, the kids started on the team as early as sixth grade, but I went in with a couple of friends. Well, more like acquaintances, but I digress. They put me on second string, O line, left tackle. I still got to play some, I swear!
Training, at times, was brutal. You see, I had what is called Exercise Induced Asthma. It didn’t help the whole exercise aspect of sports.
What I recall most vividly is The Hill.
We approached it in full gear after an entire evening of practice. At the end of the day, the sun was beginning to descend behind nearby tree line. We separated into groups of five, each peering down the 90° slope, the green grass worn to brown from previous runs. The whistle blew a shrill staccato note, reverberating off the boxy, brick school building behind us. Then we did suicides up and down that hill until everyone had gone at least once or five times. Sometimes they’d make us do it again after it seemed like it was over. I could barely make the one.
I’d emerge at the top by the end of my run, my breathing sharp and shallow.
They’d yell, “Place your hands above your head,” because that was apparently a way to open up your lungs. I always thought I was under arrest. I’d fall to the ground, sprawling for my inhaler, feeling my airway constrict, my chest tightening, burning. Occasionally, my vision would turn to black for a moment and I’d fall on my face, coming to seconds later with a concerned parent, usually someone else’s who’d arrived early, hovering above my head.
All my memories of football are like that, dramatic.
Here’s the tie in. Yeah, I wanted to quit. No, my parents didn’t let me. It was a good case of, “When things get tough, the tough get going.” I had to be tough. You usually have to be tough in sports. And sometimes you have to be tough in life. It’s something I use now when I’m creating. Sometimes, after I’ve been working on a piece for a while, I’ll have the urge to scrap it. That can be acceptable, but not for every one of them. I have to use discretion and force myself to persevere. It’s a quality.
But there was a transference! Maybe.
To say there’s a correlation, a moral, or something along those lines, I think, would be somewhat misleading. I don’t know if there’s really a transference here. But if there’s anything people are good at, it’s reasoning.
I see my fellow writers and artists succeeding and I want to succeed. In fact, I want to be better. I will admit that this is partially human nature, but also a sense of competition that only grew through the years. Sports will do that to you. I’m motivated in this regard.
And I can work in groups, I just usually don’t. It’s a personal preference as previously stated.
[Insert Conclusion Here]
I want to tell you a happy sports story because sports can be fun, but they usually weren’t for me. I only have a handful of pleasant memories, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
How about this? I’ll give thanks for one thing sports gave me, beyond the knowledge to hold something resembling a conversation with other men: Thank you, SPORTS, for teaching me to not fit in. I know that’s the opposite lesson attributed to team sports. I mean, I wouldn’t have played them if I didn’t want to fit in, as I mentioned earlier. I’ll admit that there were some sports that ended up being somewhat pleasant for me like soccer and rugby, but I consider those outliers. It was the less-than-pleasant experiences, seeing how everyone else reacted that gave me confidence in not needing to be with other people, not all of the time. It’s so much better to be myself, a weirdo with a penchant for writing, than a jock, because I’m not that. And you don’t need to be either.
*Image used here was an original production by Becca Hollaway. That’s the same person who illustrated my book.
P.S. Other aspects to be touched upon in future sports related posts.