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the problem with sports

So, this is the problem with sports: There are winners and losers. And I can’t handle it.

I was in utter agony during the Winter Olympics because they would show us these adorable teenagers from different countries (figure skating, I’m looking at you) and tell us how the whole country would freak out if they didn’t win, and then. Guess what. They didn’t all win. Did anyone see the face of the female silver medalist for figure skating? I wanted to cry for her.

And then in the NCAA game last night–argh. I couldn’t even watch. I wanted everyone to win because they’d both come so far! And worked so hard!

I remember (I am old) when the Jazz were in the NBA Finals and lost to the Bulls and my whole family was SO BUMMED and my dad had to go on a long walk when it was over to ease the pain. When he came back, he said, “I have come to an important realization. I do not play basketball for the Utah Jazz.”

No, he didn’t. But he played in the alumni tournament and he played in the backyard with three of his four kids who went on to play high school ball (and he would have played with me, too, if I’d ever wanted to). So. My dad is not a member of the Utah Jazz. But basketball was still his. He liked it, he played it for fun, and he played it with his kids.

And writing is like this, too. There are awards and sales and ways to get competitive if you want to. But these things are often out of your control. So, when I’m writing something new, like I am right now, I try to remember: I do not play for the Utah Jazz. Nobody sees if it rims out; no one knows how many times it takes me to make that shot. I just play for me, here on my own little court, for now.

Clarification added 4/7: After reading my good friend Jake’s comment, I thought I should clarify that the part about winners/losers being a “problem” with sports was meant to be tongue-in-cheek/self-deprecating. I love sports and also learned some of my best life lessons through competing.

+ comments (10)
  • Sara B. Larson
    April 6, 2010

    What great advice (and so true!). I need to remember it more often.

    And yes, I’m old enough to remember the finals that the Jazz lost to the Bulls. More than once. My dad may or may not have thrown his remote control at the wall. More than once. No sedate walks to blow off steam at my house. lol! 😉

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your wisdom. It is well needed (for me at least). 🙂

  • Susan Auten
    April 6, 2010

    That’s what I love about writing. That game was a bummer last night though. I’m a Virginia girl and we root for anyone playing a Carolina team. So wanted Butler to win because I also love to root for the underdog.

  • Stacey
    April 6, 2010

    So insightful and beautiful as always.

    Perhaps this is why no one in our house is all that into sports. My dad watches games, my brothers played some but I never got into them unless I was in the game. (The exceptions for me are the Olympics and when the Angels were in the World Series).

    In the end we have to remember life is not a competition!

  • Samantha
    April 6, 2010

    Very, very true. Writing never turns out as well if you’re trying to please someone else. Despite that fact, it can’t be an entirely selfish endeavor. I feel that I have been greatly served by reading stuff other people wrote for themselves….

    The winners/losers thing is true. Why does there always have to be just one? The Olympic figure skating commentators pointed out that what some lacked in artistry, they made up for in skating difficulty, and vice versa. They should have awards for both…. 🙂

  • M.J. Horton
    April 6, 2010

    Hehe. I couldn’t watch either. I just can’t especially when games are close. I get antsy.

    Thanks for this. Once you start doing your research of the business, it’s hard not to get caught up in being competitive or simply comparing yourselves to others. I think I do way more of the latter than I should.


  • Sandy Shin
    April 6, 2010

    You always write such lovely and insightful posts. When writing, it’s so difficult to block out all the voices that worry about the commercial potential of the novel, the possible reactions of readers, etc. It’s easy to make it a competition. Too much of these can be paralyzing. That’s the reason I have been stuck on some of my projects: I’m too terrified to go on.

    However, now, I’m forcing myself to push all those thoughts away, because you’re right. I don’t play for the Utah Jazz. Maybe the first draft of my novel is the worst that’s ever and will ever be written, but nobody will know about it but me. And that’s all right. :]

  • JoanFairbank
    April 6, 2010

    Thanks Ally. I needed a reminder that writing is fun. Regardless of how much success you achieve (or don’t achieve). I wonder if those figure skaters still love skating. I bet they do…
    The story about your dad reminded me of mine. Every football season I have to remind him that he doesn’t play for Penn State.

  • Jake
    April 7, 2010

    I’m going to have to disagree with you Ally (not on the writing thing, but the sports thing). I love sports and one of the reasons I love it so much is the agony of defeat. Some of the biggest lessons in my life have come from overcoming the pain of a sports loss. My victories have been fun and wonderful (and rare) but the losses and defeats and my response to them contributed a lot more to my current character. I’m not sure my dad would agree with me in that.

    That said, the agony of the Utah-BYU football game this season still lingers for me.

  • Krista V.
    April 7, 2010

    Ah, those late nineties Jazz/Bulls finals. My husband is – well, was – a huge Michael Jordan fan. He’s probably the only Utahn who actually enjoyed those games.

    Also, I’m organizing an LDS writer-blogger extravaganza (not the official name, by the way), and thought of you. Feel free to contact me at kvandolzer@gmail.com if you’re interested in more details.

  • ally
    April 13, 2010

    Sara, I love that you remember that era too. Good times.

    Susan, that’s fun to know! I liked Butler too. I do like that Coach K as well though.

    Stacey, we love sports around here. Probably to our detriment. 😉

    Samantha, definitely. I too have benefited from the words of others.

    M.J., I am the same way. I have to hide my eyes when things get tense. I miss a lot of good stuff because of that. 😉

    Sandy, I have so been there before–too terrified to go on. You can do it! And thank you for all your lovely comments.

    Joanie, that makes me laugh about your dad. He seems like such a great guy.

    Jake, I totally agree with you. Sorry that didn’t come across in my post. And, as you know, many of my great life lessons came from being coached by your dad.

    Krista, that sounds interesting! I’ll be in touch.

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