I want to play
A well-respected man once said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
We all understand the idea behind this statement but as the years slip by, I no longer hold to its truth.
As a freelance journalist, I have the good fortune of covering a great deal of sporting events. That’s partly why I took the gig, so I could have a legitimate excuse to watch games and still stay married. It took me 23 years to figure out that I could have my cake and eat it too.
So now, you can find me in the stands with the rest of the fans.
On Tuesday I am a softball fanatic, on Thursday it's soccer and on a Friday you will find me rooting for a local baseball team.
I don’t have a team, as a reporter I am to be unbiased, so I just root for the game.
I watch as these young men and women pour their heart and soul into the games that they love. Every play is life and death and they show this sense of urgency on their faces.
It’s captured in their smiles, their pain, their joy and even their tears. They don’t want to lose.
It is hard not to envy them running without fear of how they will feel tomorrow. They can still do that because they are young. Most of them will just feel normal in the morning. I would need help getting out of bed and a unhealthy doss of Goody powders to make it to the couch.
The thought that occurs to me is that very few of them will remember the game that I am watching today. Time will pass, they will move on and find a job, get married, become moms and dads and today’s score will be long forgotten.
They will trade in their jerseys for a different type of uniform and find themselves sitting next to me in the stands. It happens to all of us. When it does, we don’t look back fondly on how many games we won or lost, we just remember what it felt like to play and to be a part of the team.
There is something elemental about sports. It is the last remnant of childhood’s greatest gift, the freedom to play, to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. This is something that I did long ago.
I miss the feel of a wooden bat and the smell of newly cut grass. I miss the sound of the ball slipping through the net or echoing off the asphalt court. I don’t think about winning anymore. I understand that it’s not the winning that I miss. I miss the playing. In life, the truly important thing is playing… for the fun of it.
I called my buddy earlier and asked him if he would teach me how to play soccer. I doubt that I will ever be really good enough to win, but it will be great to play again.