abk Lifestyle: Sports, Life, and the Thrill of the Unknown

“That’s why you play the game.”-old sports adage

Every time I stepped onto the field as a youngster, I never knew what was going to happen. Sure, I hoped I would play well and that my team, regardless of the sport, would win, but I never knew for sure. And even if I was 99.9% sure something would happen because, as an example, we were playing an inferior team, I never knew HOW it was going to happen.

And that’s why, from the time I was three years old to now being merely months away from turning forty, I absolutely love sports.

As we get older, for whatever reason, it seems we are subconsciously asked to shun variety and encouraged to crave routine, certainty, and comfort. You know, that same stuff different day. And while I crave actual comfort (ie wanting my feet not to hurt) more than ever, based on what I have observed on what routine and certainty can do to a person’s zest for life, I have found myself going in the opposite direction.

After nearly five years of self reflection, I feel most alive when life is in full bloom, and I feel life is most in full bloom when I actually, consciously have to live it.

When I have to play the game.

Do you think the starters for UNC basketball knew that they were going to have to play all 20 minutes of the second half en route to ruining Coach K’s going away party?

Do you think that the operations crew for Charlotte FC’s inaugural home game knew that the microphone was going to stop working, leading to 75,000 fans singing the national anthem in unison?

What are the odds that Ja Morant for the Memphis Grizzlies scores 52 points on the random Monday night that my son and I are in town at the game?

How interesting was it to watch professional golfers get completely confounded by the wind this week at TPC Sawgrass, hitting shots that any weekend golfer can relate to?

I wonder sometimes how my students feel when they’ve had a major breakthrough in one of our lessons. When a beginner gets the ball in the air for the first time. When someone who had been struggling shoots their best score ever. I wonder if, when they woke up that day, they knew they were going to make personal magic.

I wonder how my son felt when he saw our seats Friday night in New Orleans, close enough to see what color one of his favorite players Kelly Oubre Jr’s fingernails were painted that night. I know how I felt when I ran into an army of Hornets supporters who had flown in from back home. Double take. Triple take. Yo, I know you.

Imagine my disgust over a recent Ivy League basketball game. The over/under was around 135, I had the over, and the teams combined for almost 80 points in the first half. Yet for whatever reason, they decided not to score a damn thing in the second half.

I can tell you for a fact that, when I woke up last Tuesday, I had no idea that I was going to shoot a 4 under par 32 on my back 9.

It IS a beautiful feeling to wake up nearly every day now knowing that something statistically improbable has the opportunity to happen that day.

Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s why I watch the game. That’s why I go to the game. That’s why I play the game. Because contrary to popular belief, that uncertainty is where the magic happens.

Where life is in full bloom.

Have a great week.-Benj

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