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.