Hatin' on sports, slight return
Joyfully survived the yearly guy's campout. (I was getting over some chest crud, so was pretty wiped out.) No women, no kids are the only rules. No one's dumb enough to believe that what happens at the guy's campout stays at the guy's campout, so even though those are the only two rules, it's a lot of good clean fun.
The primary conversation topic this year revolved around half of the guys being on a softball team together. Not giving a flying frick about sports, I mostly tuned out the blather on how to hit and catch and who sucks and who rocks and instead listened to the music, watched the fire, cooked my meal, etc.
But one tawdry little episode brought back all the nasty memories of gym class hell and the various sports my mom enrolled me in before I decided they weren't for me.
Granted, it brought a happy little memory tagging along, like the four-year-old little brother of someone who gets grudging permission to hang out with the big kids for a little bit. I recalled the exact moment I finally realized sports just weren't for me.
It was during basketball practice, and I had been placed on the loser's lay-up practice hoop with a couple other spazzes like myself while the other guys were in teams and playing a game already. I wasn't allowed to play because I didn't lift the correct leg when going in for a lay-up. I hit the basket as well and as often as the others, but there was this issue with the wrong leg rising. I now realize that the coach had figured out I'd never be anything but a middling player at best, and so had shunted me off to the side until I decided to quit for myself. The moment came as I was trying to get the right leg up during yet another lay-up attempt, and as I dribbled towards the basket, I thought, in big neon letters, "I just can't manage to give a damn about this." (I didn't have a lot of exposure to the f-bomb at the time, or would have thought that in place of "damn".) I aborted the lay-up, stepped off the court, and watched the guys over on the other court playing shirts against skins, and again I thought, "I just don't care and I never will." I just dribbled around for the remainder of the practice, and when it was over, never again voluntarily returned to a sports floor. It was a happy, watershed moment of my life that allowed me to avoid wasting any more time on something I found useless that I could now devote to things I actually enjoyed.
So it has been a while since I've seen that weird random cruelty that crops up in sports, apparently in the name of keeping everyone tough and to promote camaraderie. (If you need to be hard as nails to do something that's supposed to be fun, I'll pass, thanks.)
Some of the guys at the campout took out a softball and started tossing it around for practice. After a few throws, one of the guys sitting down said to one of the guys playing, "Hey, Stan [not his actual name], you throw like a girl!" Stan responded with an appropriate profane retort, but these guys kept pointing and giggling every time he gave the ball a toss, and then started to opine on what specifically they considered girlish about his throw. He just kept quiet, as there was nothing to be done but endure. I watched the other guys who were throwing and noted they did the exact same things that Stan was getting hell for.
From what I could tell, this wasn't good-natured ribbing. No, this was the old playground "let's see if he cries if we pick on him long enough" kinda shit. Later, I kicked myself for not speaking and suggesting they climb the hell off. Still later, I remembered that sticking up for someone during sports play often made the hell they were getting way worse, and then some came your way, too. Glad I just sat there like a church mouse after all.
Swear to God, I will go to my grave not understanding the mechanics or value behind this kind of shit.