It would be impossible to imagine anyone who loved sports more than I did. From the age of 8 till the age of 14 no one on the planet cared as much about sports as me.
I could tell you the batting average of every major league baseball player, and I could remember the most miniscule details about my personal heroes, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, and I could copy their batting stances.
With the barn as my batters box, I would toss the ball to myself, and hit towering Mantle like whiffle ball shots over Mom’s clothesline for home runs. Or from my home made pitchers mound I would drop Whitey Ford curve balls over home plate.
In the fall I would mimic the graceful football moves of Andy Robustelli and Frank Gifford of the New York Giants, and I would pass Y A Tittle inspired footballs to non existent wide receivers.
And in the winter, I would shoot thousands of basketballs toward the side of the barn using the same form as my hero, Richie Guerin of the Knicks.
As mentioned above, I was engaging in these sporting activities by myself, since I had no one to play with.
Therefore, I had no real opportunity to improve my skills, nor did I have the opportunity to play in a team environment.
So, when I was old enough to play in a team sport , I came up short, skill and team play wise. I was shocked when I found out I could not effortlessly recreate all my backyard moves.
As a result, excruciatingIy, I wound up at the end of the bench of whatever sport I was playing.
This being the 1960’s, I don’t think that children were being treated for severe childhood depression. But if they had, it would’ve been impossible to ignore a child who deeply loved sports, but performed poorly in them.
The brutal realization that I was lousy at what I loved created a permanent depressive state for a period of years.
And as I approached adolescence, I came to realize that things were much worse then I previously thought. Upon turning 13, I came to appreciate the opposite sex. But I soon realized that girls were more interested in guys who were good athletes. So my losses were doubled.
As I entered high school, I lived in my own lonely world.I wasn’t a good enough athlete to hang out with the jocks, and I wasn’t smart enough to hang out with the very smart kids. I knew where I stood when I reported to the cafeteria for lunch during my senior year, and was turned away by every table but one, a group of low functioning losers.
I’m happy to say that my son did not go through the same misery. Even though he played sports every season of high school, he was not really a sports nut. He never watched sports on TV, and never kept track of player statistics. His acceptance by others was a great relief to me. I had no desire to see him go through what I went through.
At my current age, I have very little passion for any sport. I might watch an occasional football game, but that’s about it .And with my current state of mind, I’m just as happy to sit at the losers lunch table as the top jock table. They are all equal to me.
Not caring much about sports has made my life much easier. All of the anguish of my youth is just a distant memory.
And that makes for a happier adult with greater self-esteem, and that’s a good thing.