I have never been good at sports. Chalk it up to being a chunky little dude who was zero parts jock and all parts jocular. As a kid I played sports. I tried a bunch, but never excelled (barely scraped by in fact). I had all of the enthusiasm, but none of the skill. Tons of power with a complete lack of finesse. I wasn’t fast, agile or tactical. I did my best, tried super hard and failed even harder. I don’t know that I ever scored in a team sport. Ever. I developed a massive inferiority complex because of it and most sports actively made me miserable.
- Rugby was a bust. I thought that, being a chubby kid, I’d be great at bowling through people. I probably would’ve been, but my lack of fitness meant going for a simple run was enough to have me panting. If you can’t run the length of the field, it’s unlikely you’ll be great at scoring anything. I was utterly clumsy, meaning I couldn’t catch or pass properly, fumbling at every opportunity. In reality I was the stereotypical bumbling fat kid from every 80s teen comedy. The most defining element of my suck-cess was my dominating fear of getting hurt. If anyone charged towards me, I’d basically let them just get past. Rugby wasn’t my game. I’m a bad New Zealander.
- With tennis I had no discipline. I just liked hitting things, but couldn’t aim whatsoever. I may have had one or two volleys in the 3 or 4 seasons I trained. Whenever I served, I’d hit the ball so hard it’d sail over the court and into the court behind us. I took a private satisfaction in how strong I thought I was. I must’ve been hands down the worst player to coach.
- In soccer, I had a huge kick. I mean, I toe hacked, so there was no accuracy, but it’d soar away. Once again, feeling strong lifted my spirits, so I consoled myself with that. I often played as goalie because I assumed that as a larger kid, that’s where I needed to be. Also it required very little running. Thing is, I also sucked completely at saving goals. If the opposing team actually made it down to the goal, chances were that they had a point coming to them. Being quite wimpy and entirely risk averse, I’d never dive for the ball. I didn’t want to get hurt, after all. I eventually transitioned to playing defence, which worked a spell better. I enjoyed being away from the action. As a veritable wall, I provided a large disincentive for the opposing team and if I got to the ball, I’d manage to clear it down the field. I also excelled at eating oranges during half time. Because of this trifling success, I stuck with soccer for longer than most other sports.
- Tee ball was probably my favourite sport. It meant I could hit things hard. The glove made it easier for my marshmallow temperament to subside, letting me catch things. If I had to run it was usually for a short distance, plus if I played backstop I got to wear armour (which made me feel like a knight) and I wouldn’t have to run. Is it the perfect fat guy sport? Because I liked the game, I’d get dangerously excited about it. One of my favourite things to do was throw the bat when I ran. The coach had to intervene and teach me to just drop the bat, after a few instances of almost harming spectators with a flying metal rod.
My favourite story with tee ball was the one time I took matters into my own hands to get’er done. I mentioned my inferiority complex in sports, which came into play because I never got to be the player of the day. In this instance, one of the kids on the opposite team had been teasing me for a while. Throughout the season he’d give me shit about my weight and it got to be enough that rather than cry about it, I got angry. The guy was a classic arrogant prick. If I met him these days, he’d probably have a bumper sticker saying “no fat chicks”. That kind of guy. So at this stage I’ve moved onto softball. I’m playing backstop because I want to look like a ninja turtle. This guy goes for a bunt and the ball is within close grasp. I get it and look at it for a split second. The obvious play is to just throw to first. I should get him there, but I’m not the most accurate when it comes to passing. My throwing technique paralleled my tennis serves. So wanting a bit of glory for myself, I just start chasing the dude.
He notices me and starts laughing. How is a fat kid gonna catch up to him? Instead of staying safe at first base, he keeps running. I stop running and begin sprinting. Bolting as fast as I can, shirking every chance to pass to a team mate and get this guy out, I just cane it, running as fast as my stumpy legs can go. Passing second base, I’m gaining on him and he doesn’t quite notice. He just keeps running. There are screams coming from all around, my coach is yelling, team mates are calling for me to pass. I hear none of it, I’m seeing in tunnel vision. We pass third and I’m actually getting close. I transcend being a fat kid and simply become The Juggernaut, bitch. My body is giving out on me and I stop listening to it, this asshole is just about home and I’m not gonna let it happen. I’m almost in arm’s reach and I go for the slide, taking him out in the process. The umpire looks at me, stunned and starts laughing. By this point everyone is in hysterics, dumbfounded by the idiocy of what they’ve just seen. I don’t know if it was my sheer audacity, the force of will that got me there, but the umpire looks kindly on me and raises his hand “out”. A cheer breaks out and a smile grows from ear to ear on my dopey little face. I’m sweating, panting, but the all encompassing happiness of that moment still sticks with me whenever I merely think of the sport. For just one day, I was the hero. That day I got my player of the day ribbon. I earned it.