In an effort to create a social life, I recently joined a weekly pool players group. After experiencing the thrill of making a particularly difficult shot, I had an epiphany. All of a sudden, I understood ball sports in a way I never had before.
In junior high school, I hated ball sports — especially volleyball. They made us play it in P.E. class and I was the kid no one wanted on their team. The confident players sensed my aversion to the game and would shove me out of the way so they could make the hit.
Four decades later, I’m still suffering from PVSD (Post Volleyball Stress Disorder). As a result, I have no desire to participate in team sports. Still, a girl’s gotta have some kind of social life, which is why I decided to return to the game of pool.
Not long after I did, I began to understand what all the fuss was about. Whether you are playing football, basketball, soccer, golf, pocket billiards, or bowling, all those ball sports offer three things you can’t get from the game of life.
- Everyone has to follow the rules.
- You get to kick, hit, or throw things to accomplish your objective.
- The goal is achievable in less than 24 hours.
If you haven’t noticed, the real world isn’t quite that simple. Lots of people make up their own rules; physically lashing out doesn’t solve anything; and life is full of challenges not easily solved. But with sports, if we can just get a little ball to go where we want it to go, we feel on top of the world!
“Yes!” we holler excitedly. “I did it!”
We forget for a moment everything in our lives we can’t control. We stop worrying about our health challenges, or how our kids will turn out, or what we’re going to do about retirement. For a few seconds all those things disappear as we relish the sweet victory of successfully moving one small inanimate object from point A to point B.
It sounds silly, but it’s really quite ingenious that we’ve come up with a way to succeed at something, even when we might feel like a failure at everything else. It’s like we’re declaring to the world, “My career, relationships, and financial portfolio might be in the toilet, but by golly, did you see that bank shot I just made?”
Jumping up and down in excitement, we clap our hands and high-five whoever witnessed the amazing feat. In the process, we feel celebrated. We feel supported. We feel . . . jubilant!
I know it’s just a game. Yet, somehow, it’s so much more. It’s a platform for experiencing community.
In the midst of the complexities of life, we need a place where we can come together, take a whack at something, and go home feeling better for it. Ball sports give us that. I finally understand that now.
For my views on football, check out how a weekend in Vegas to made me a Denver Broncos fan.