I have a love/hate relationship with sports today.
I’m not naturally the sports kind of guy. Now, don’t get me wrong; I played basketball almost every day for nine years, from fourth grade until I graduated high school. I worked at it. I ran several miles on practice days and pushed myself in order to get better.
Basketball wasn’t the only sport I liked, either. I loved playing softball, football, golf, and even less-organized sports like dodge ball and four square. I made up games with my friends. Troy White and I invented a game in which we got on the swings at school, loosened our shoes, and used the lines in the parking lot to measure how far we could launch them at the peak of the forward swing (that game was awesome).
But I’m not sure why I like sports. I’ve developed interests in soccer and hockey since I graduated, but I’m not sure what drew me to them.
Is it the competition? I don’t think so. I’m not a naturally competitive kind of guy. I just like having fun. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get aggravated when I lose during Monday night basketball, or get angry with myself when I miss a shot. But I don’t seek out competitive situations.
Is it the exercise? Well, now it is, since I spend so much time behind a computer and desperately need some physical activity. When I was younger…not so much. I was 6’1’’, 135 pounds. I didn’t need exercise; I needed a plate of Popeye’s chicken.
I’ve decided it was my environment. My brother was beyond fanatical about basketball. If he had to choose between a date with a beautiful girl and a weekend-long basketball tournament, he would’ve chose the tournament every single time. He worked harder, played harder, and invested more into basketball than I ever would.
My dad loved sports too. He and his brothers played every sport imaginable in their back yard while growing up. He played softball at youth camps (even when he preached them later in his life), and is currently a semi-dedicated LSU football fan (as we all are).<p.
But without their influence, would I have ever liked sports?
My mom and dad did try to help me along the path to music when I showed an interest. I started guitar lessons at about eleven-years-old. A man in our church was an unbelievable guitarist, and started teaching me. After several lessons (which I loved), he moved away to Houston and we were obviously going to need another teacher, but I never found one. I never begged my parents to send me back to guitar lessons. I didn’t really even think about it. I was a kid; I loved Mario and dirt bikes. Why would I want to practice guitar?
Today I am constantly beating myself up over not asking for a new teacher and developing a musical skill. I don’t play a single instrument, but I’m constantly making up songs, creating melodies, singing the lyrics, and clearly hearing the music in my head, but I have no way to translate it into something that can be heard and experienced.
I love guitars (especially acoustic), and have an interest in an eclectic variety of music. I listen to songs over and over again, analyzing what it is that makes them so catchy or meaningful. I wish, with an almost pitiful desperation, that I could write songs of my own.
But I played basketball…not guitar.
Don’t get me wrong. I learned a lot from basketball. I had a great coach who taught us hard work, discipline, teamwork, and how to analyze moments and react accordingly in a split second. I had a blast going to tournaments and hanging out with friends.
But why I didn’t dedicate time into an activity that would reap dividends for literally the rest of my life is inexplicable. Call it youthful foolishness if you will, but all I can associate with is regret.
Sure, I can still learn guitar (I’m kinda/sorta trying), but if only I had developed a wider range of interests and put my heart into something that I loved, not because of my environment, but because it appealed to me…things might be different today.
And that is why my children will be playing an instrument.