Saturday, October 15, 2022


For some reason I've been thinking about my experiences, all long ago now, playing sports. Not a favorite activity of mine, but I've been induced to do a little.

There are two ordinary sporting activities that I simply cannot do, though others do them all the time. I just can't.

1. I cannot hit a moving ball with an implement. I'm not just bad at this task, but completely incompetent.
This eliminates baseball and softball, and all net games like tennis, ping pong, badminton.

2. I can't do anything if the other team is physically interfering with me.
This eliminates a lot of games I might be OK at without this feature (because there's no implement between you and the ball), like basketball and soccer. When forced to play these in school, I concentrated on just getting in the way of the other team, as that's the one thing I could do.

A couple other restrictions:

3. No way in heck am I going to catch a ball thrown from a great distance.
This also eliminates baseball, and American football.

4. Even in youth I was the world's slowest runner and had the weakest arm strength.
So no track and field or weights. Don't even think about gymnastics.

That left me with two kinds of ball games:

A. Ones in which there's no implement between you and the ball and the other team is kept physically separate.
That basically meant volleyball. I was reasonably OK at volleyball and enjoyed playing it. I especially liked that you were surrounded by teammates so a lot of cooperation was needed.
You could also put bowling in this category. One of my grandfathers took us to bowl. I found I could be pretty good at it if I concentrated really hard. The problem was that I didn't enjoy doing that. It was too mentally stressful, and over time I found it was really not very interesting. So I never seriously took up bowling.

B. One in which there's an implement, but the ball is sitting still.
And that's golf. (Well, croquet, but my experience with that is minimal.) Both my grandfathers were enthusiastic golfers and tried to recruit me. They never took me actually to play a game, but I practiced at driving ranges a lot. But the problem that arose was similar to that with bowling. I found I could only hit the ball off the tee with adequate force if I worked up a strong short-term hatred of the ball. But I didn't want to do that. It was mentally exhausting and distinctly unenjoyable. So I never took up golf either.
But before I quit, one day my brother and I snuck out and played nine holes on the course by the side of which my grandparents were living. One hole I made in par. I consider the ability to do that to be the minimum standard for golfing competence, so I have that to my credit.
But the actual events do not certify my golfing skills. The hole was a short par 3 with a large water hazard taking up most of the space between the tee and the green.* My ball skipped off the water, like a rock thrown with that intention, and landed near the green. Sheer luck. Two putts and I was in; a competent golfer could probably have done it in one putt.

*It was hole 16 of the Seven Lakes Country Club in Palm Springs, California.

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