Playing With The Big Boys...

Played some volleyball yesterday, haven't had the chance of doing that since the summer. The team I play on is awesome because they are awesome people, truly a joy to be around. And while we are easily the oldest team out on the court, I think we laugh the most and have the most fun.

But sometimes the competition we face is rather daunting. The volleyball league we compete in plays on men's height nets, which are eight feet tall (and I SWEAR that they are more like nine feet tall at times). My league is co-ed so we regularly face young men who can jump like they are in the NBA and they hit so hard that I wonder if we should have tourniquets readily available in case of limb-removal-by-force-of-volleyball tragedies. Needless to say, it can be pretty overwhelming.

At these times I can:
A) whine that it's not fair and that these guys should be playing in the league above ours (popular and common option)
B) become resentful that I am not young anymore and have had knee surgery and now have a chronic shoulder injury (occurs in my mind often)
C) lay on the court in the fetal position and beg for mercy (never happens but is a tantalizing temptation when we are losing the game severely and i am stinking up the court)
D) play with the big boys and tell them to bring on the heat because I can take it, or at least try (usually what happens)

There's a saying: "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen" and I ponder that often.

In sports, giving up is not an option. On days where my game just isn't flowing and i can't seem to do much that is helpful, I feel like giving up and running away, but this is not an option. If I gave up, my teammates would surely kill me and it would be a huge letdown to everyone.

Team sports remind me that it's not all about me (thank God) and that I have a role and a job to do no matter if I am playing well or not playing well. If something in my game isn't working, then I can switch skills to something that is.

If I am not hitting well then I can support and set my teammates who are. If I am not passing well, then I can move out of the rotation so those who are passing well can do that job. If I am serving well, then I can continue to do so and score some points that way. At any rate, everyone on a team has a job and a role and we depend upon each other.

In sports as well, we are taught that we have to let go of past mistakes and move on to the present play at hand. When we make a mistake, we can look at our fundamentals and what went wrong, try to incorporate that information and then we try to apply it in the next situation.

One of the surest ways to lose a game is to harp on past bad plays in your mind so much that they affect your present and future plays. If you do that too often, you will find a nice spot on the bench, where you can dwell entirely upon yourself. Whee! (not so much...)

Anyway, I often appreciated John Paul II's words on athletics, that sports can indeed be an avenue and training ground for virtue.

I couldn't agree more.. (that is, when I am not reattaching my arm after being hit with a leather missile.....)


Anonymous said…
Great points! Being a Master's (older) athlete (jogger,swimmer) I often find some the the day's most spritual moments in prayerful exercise...event if the competition gets heats up!
Royal Presence said…
I just heard you on the radio.

RE: the team and athletes. I try to tell my colleagues at work about being on a team, but they don't get it at all :-)

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