Sometimes sports suck. The challenge is so real, and so “in your face” failures can hit hard.
Like tonight. I had my class, and it was exhaustive, but awesome like normal. Then after, my teacher found some people to play with me.
And in all honesty, it’s a bit embarrassing. Last week I told him I felt like he was my dad and I was his kid sitting alone on the playground and he asked other kids to play with me.
But today was worse. I realized I am the little short kid with asthma that no one wants on their team while my coach is captain of the football team whom everyone wants to talk to. He asked a woman to play with me, and she did, begrudgingly. When we finished (she won 21-11) she just walked away. Usually there is a little high five or a “thanks” when the game is over, but she just walked away. Okkkkkkaaayyy?
My teacher asked if she wanted to play me again.
“I wanna play against you,” she said to my teacher. It was like playing with me was a price to play with him.
“Well, we still have to find someone for Xiao Bing,” he said. (He calls me by my chinese name.) People then began fighting over NOT playing with me.
She finally talked some sucker into it but after a few points, he left to go play a doubles game with other people and I sat down. My teacher asked a woman who was sitting down if she wanted to play with me.
“Sorry,” she said. “I’m getting ready to leave.”
He then somehow got me into a doubles game with three people I had never met before. Doubles is my thing. It’s what me and my friends play all the time, and I know that I am okay at it.
But not today. My confidence was shot at this point, and I just felt like the court burden.
And the thing is I know how the other people felt, and I don’t blame them. In my group, with my friends, I do everything I can to avoid the lower level players. Honestly, it’s just not as fun. The game isn’t a challenge, and if these people only play once a week, I totally get them not wanting to play with me.
But, from my point of view it felt like shit and I played like shit. When we finished the doubles game the guy I was playing with looked at me and said, “you want to take a break, don’t you.” No. I didn’t. But I got his meaning.
My teacher had just finished his game and I went over a bit dejected. “I guess I’ll go home now,” I told him.
“Okay,” he said. “Don’t worry.” He could tell I was a bit bummed. I’m always tired afterwards, but this was like, a soul exhaustion. I listened to sad music on the way home and thought about how much I sucked. Sucked at everything, not just badminton. I’m not the person to fall easily into dramatic bouts of self loathing, but something about the nights play pushed me deep into the pit.
Why do sports have that power over people? How does one bad night on the court translate to questioning your entire existence?
I texted my teacher later that night. Honestly, I want to dude to be proud of me, not this embarrassment of a person who he has to beg people to play with.
He said that those other players had been playing for years and I shouldn’t compare myself to them. “I’m really surprised you got 11 points,” he said referring to my game with the woman. I had played her before and only managed to get 3 points, so 11 was an improvement, but still…
He said some other stuff and did his best to cheer me up. I’m still bummed that I failed so bad, but I am a little relieved that he isn’t upset with me. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t need praise, but I do need encouragement. A little “Don’t worry, you’ll get better,” goes a lot further than “You want to take a break, don’t you?”
As a writer I go through plenty of bouts of self-hatred and criticism, but it’s different. I think think things like: I suck as a writer. Why do I even try, everyone else is better than me. Who am I to think anyone wants to read anything I write?
It’s all writing centric and ideas based.
It seems with sports it goes deeper. Being bad one day doesn’t make me question my sports ability, it makes me question everything: Why am I so lazy? God I’m fat. I’m stupid to think I can actually be good at this thing, I’m too old. I’m too slow. I suck at learning new thing, and on and on….
So sometimes sports suck.