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I Could Be an "Athlete"! - 5 Cents
Posted by: Mark Nichols

14 Jun 2007


I've been thinking a little bit about sports recently. I'm thinking I could be good at golf. I've only swung a club once at a driving range last year, but it was really fun. And with enough practice, why couldn't I shoot par on a course? I hit a seven iron 140 yards, and from what I remember from my video game days, that's an okay distance for that club.

 

Maybe being good at golf is just a dream, but at least with golf it's just me and my ability - there are no 6'4" giants hurling objects or themselves at me. What I do determines my success. Nothing or no one else.

 

But it got me thinking, what sports are out there where Joe Schmoes could compete without much natural physical ability? No seven-foot giants blocking shots, no 300-pound defensive lineman wanting to smush us, and no 100 mph heat racing by our quivering knees. If there's not a need for insane physical attributes, isn't it just our circumstances keeping us from the fame and riches of athletic stardom? Anyone who can lift a bowling ball has the chance to be a great bowler. Anyone who can swing a club could be a great golfer. We may not end up being great for a lack of practice, or a lack of focus, or a lack of instruction (where we lack the ability to get a strike or hit a golf ball, we can be taught methods to increase the odds). Physically speaking though, most of us are capable of getting a strike or hitting a golf ball when we are incapable of running a 4.4 40 or throwing 100 mph.

 

Actually, couldn't many of us end up making pretty good NASCAR drivers? I think I'm a pretty good driver. I usually know if I'm an inch away from a curb or any other object. I can parallel park with the best of 'em. I drive like Letterman sometimes down the Merritt Parkway. In fact, I drive 50 miles a day just for my commute. That's a lot of practice driving. And I think I could hold the gas pedal all the way to the floor for six hours straight. I'm physically ready, but just haven't been given the opportunity. Stinkin' circumstances. (Somewhat related rant: why do NASCAR drivers need to be on racing "teams"? Don't they just need their pit crew and some spare tires?)

 

I think lots of people are kept from greatness because of their circumstances. It's a little annoying. So many missed chances at greatness, and we continue to toil away doing less fun stuff and are left imagining what could've been.

 

© 2007 Dime Brothers
Category: Sports    

Reader Comments:

NASCAR
 
And why don't they just make their cars go faster? If every car is regulated as to what it can contain, why is NASCAR even a sport? Shouldn't everyone finish in a tie every race? All you have to do is hold the pedal down. (This is of course uneducated ranting since I've never really watched racing... but it sure is fun pretending to know something when I know very little! You oughta try it out!)
14 Jun 2007
Mark 
Cycling
 
ESPN is training a woman to make the Olympics in cycling (I think road racing). She's doing alright and is racing at the national championships next month. If ever we missed our chance at fame it was in that sport.

But I am in a regional qualifier for chimp training. Wish me luck!
14 Jun 2007
Paul 
Cycling
 
I've been reading her posts about trying to make the Olympics in any sport she can. She doesn't post that often, but it's very interesting stuff.
15 Jun 2007
Mark 
Golf
 
I heard that a guy who finished near the top of the Travelers' golf tournament this last weekend only picked up golfing in his late 20s. He's about 40 now. I forget his name.

...I could be that guy.
26 Jun 2007
Mark 
Outliers
 
This article, published almost a year and a half before Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, touches on two of the main points from his book. It takes lots of practice to become good at something, and you need to have the opportunity.
31 Jul 2011
Mark 

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