Some guys like cars.
Some guys like comic books.
Some guys like gardening or even theater.
Many guys, however, like sports.
I was always somewhere in between.
Growing up, I was good at sports but I was more the lonesome, artsy kind of dude. I liked graffiti and visiting art museums on weekends.
To be honest, the male fixation with sports always confounded me.
Yeah, I watched the New York Mets if they made the World Series. I
knew the positions in football and even played it in middle school.
But for the longest time, I thought sports was a waste of time.
Couldn’t one be doing better things with one’s energy, both mentally
I never understood the obsession.
Until recently, that is. And now I must say I totally get it.
The story starts this summer, when I came across a YouTube video of
Michael Jordan playing for the Bulls.
I remembered watching Jordan in the ’90s and the clip brought back exciting memories.
I had played basketball on and off when I was younger, so I decided
maybe I’d play again.
I bought a basketball as well as a biography of Jordan and I began practicing at the park. When that went well, I began playing with guys at my sports club.
Then I hit a hitch: I wasn’t really any good.
I had an OK jump shot and a decent handle on the ball, but I was 15 or 20 years out of practice.
It was frustrating.
Oddly enough, though, that’s when the joy of getting back into
basketball really began to kick up.
I came to learn the joy of getting better.
I began practicing hard – applying the kind of effort I had
applied to becoming a better writer, let’s say.
I began watching YouTube tutorials on how to improve my
I started practicing moves and learning how to position my body
I looked up definitions of dozens of basketball terms.
Getting better at basketball made me like watching it on TV more.
I began to appreciate the nuances of the game. It wasn’t just about the ball going in!
The more games I watched, the more I began to realize
that sports commentators weren’t full of hot air.
There is actual sense to their discussing which player is “better,” for example.
And perhaps what I liked most about my newfound hobby is how masculine it is.
When you find out someone plays basketball, you regard him as,
like, a dude. I like that.
Also, it’s difficult to call someone talking sports a sissy. In contrast, I might hesitate before telling a group of guys that I love Anton Chekhov’s play “The Seagull.”
I had been underestimating sports – how
intricate, cerebral and fascinating it could be.
I had also devalued just how much sports could increase my confidence as a man.
But I get it now. I’m 35 and I’ve finally just gotten it.
But better late than never, right?