Last summer, I was on a camping trip with friends. Somebody tossed me a football and someone else told me to pass it. So I did — it spun lopsided, like a drunken bird, before crashing to the ground. Maybe ten feet from where I was standing.
One of my friends, sunbathing in her bikini, looked up and said, “That was terrible, Michael.”
She was right, but it didn’t bother me. I’m a 30 year old man who can’t throw a football. And it’s not just my throwing arm; my free throw, corner kick, fastball, backhand, slap shot, even my putt-putt are all super embarrassing. I’m good at lots of stuff, but sports has never been one of them. Don’t even toss me your keys within 100 feet of an open sewer drain.
How does this happen, you ask? How does someone get this far in life with absolutely zero athletic skill? It’s pretty simple: when I was a kid, I didn’t have time for sports. I was at the library, the comic book store, or too busy watching James Bond movies after school to play Panther Football. I never felt left out because I didn’t want to join. Everything was cool… except for gym class.
Gym class was a problem because it’s graded. You have to participate to get an A. So I was forced to join in, and it was… embarrassing. I was so un-coordinated that I was a danger to other students. Once I shot a basketball so wildly off-course that I broke a kid’s glasses. Another time, my attempt to steal a soccer ball turned into an accidental “Sweep The Leg” maneuver.
I was also a danger to myself. I fell down constantly during every gymnastics lesson, and don’t even want to talk about the nightmare that was the roller skating unit. One look at the swimming pool and I turned into a Conscientious Objector. I’ve also been hit in the head with almost every type of sports ball. Ironically, the softball hurt the most. I’m not even good at sports video games; last time I played Madden, I got so frustrated that I broke the Sega controller.
Sports teach you how to win, but they also teach you how to lose. And after years of always being an It and never a Tag, I realized that I had learned the most valuable lesson of all: sports are for millionaires.
99% of us can sort of play sports, but who cares? Only the 1% get to show up on Wheaties boxes. And I say let them have it. When professional athletes compete, it’s a work of art. When regular assholes play sports, it’s your co-worker’s improv show: clumsy and unbearable.
So let me take this opportunity to officially decline any future invitation to play a game of tennis, basketball, whatever; thanks, but no thanks. Except golf. I do want to play golf with you. But only if I can drive the cart.