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Whether survival instinct, or good sense, we all shy away from something. Or pay the price.

Hang in there, buddy. We'll save you.

Hang in there, buddy. We’ll save you.

As a kid I stayed away from green peppers and canned Chinese food, but they kept showing up on my plate too often.

That meant I was in for a marathon dinner at the family table.

The deal was either eat what’s on my plate, or fall asleep with my face in it.

It wasn’t a cruel moment, but one of teaching. I learned, too, just not very fast.

Forty five years later I like all peppers and all Chinese food. Score for Mom and Dad.

Sports have the same effect. Some things you just can’t imagine doing.

1. Kick-off Return.

No way this ever works, but it does. First you have to catch a ball that’s been kicked over fifty yards in the air. And it’s tumbling.

If you have trouble catching your breath, you’re not catching that ball.

Then you face ten, or eleven depending on the kicker, players who want to smash you into the ground.

The next time you watch a football game, drop to the ground as hard as you can to get the feeling. Then imagine three guys piling on.

2. A Lay Up Down The Middle.

You’ve seen this happen: a small guard sees an opening in the key and drives to the hoop. Except he’s been suckered in by two big guys who sandwich him.

Where’s the turf? Where’s the mat to land on? All the little guy’s got is a hardwood floor after flying through the air.

These number add up to pain: 6′ 1″ and 190 lbs bouncing off two 6’11” men weighing 260 each.

It makes running kick-offs back sound better?

3. Hitting A Curve Ball.

You’ve heard the talk about baseball and how slow the game is. People call a 95 mph fastball slow?

Even a major league change-up comes in at 80 mph.

While you’re in the batter’s box hoping you don’t get a high hard one in the ear, or flail like a crippled bird when you get fooled by a slow pitch, here comes the curve ball.

First it looks like a bean ball, then it slices across the plate. At least you think it slices across the plate because the umpire called it a strike. You can’t tell because you’re laying on your back three feet way. Not because you chickened out, but because you saved yourself from a certain headache.

It happens all the time so don’t feel bad.

4. Climbing Into The Octagon.

Win or lose, you’re taking and giving a beating.

5. Downhill Skiing.

You don’t notice, but trees sneak up on you.

6. Surfing.

Big waves or small, surfers trade their fear for thrills on the ocean. Sharks would encourage more to surf if they could talk.

7. The Marathon Sponge.

You’ve trained to run a three hour marathon. At five miles you’re ahead of pace and just warming up so you take one of the water soaked sponges at an aid station and squeeze it against the back of your neck.

The next thing you feel is a burning sensation between your buttocks. The sponge hadn’t been rinsed so you got a chemical drip down the back of your shorts. The burning gets worse but you don’t stop. Only twenty more miles to go.

Conventional sports are scary enough. Most everything in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics looks terrifying, and Bob Costas isn’t there to calm things down.




About David Gillaspie
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