This Soul Workout is dedicated to everyone who was picked last for kickball on the playground.
As childhood traumas go, we who are bad at sports tend to diminish our experiences. With all the cases of hideous abuse by parents and teachers that make it into news reports, and especially because many of us turned into the kind of sensitive people to whom others divulge their bona fide childhood agonies to, we look at our hand-eye coordination deficits, and the exclusion they produced, with skepticism. And we’re right to — sort of. Being picked last on the playground is not painful compared to living in fear in an environment of horror as an innocent child. But, it still effected us; we can’t deny that.
It stinks to be picked last for ball sports in gym class and on the playground. A member of the Meaningful Life Center staff (who happens to have written this Soul Workout) was picked last. Her hand-eye coordination is so bad that her classmates fought vicious rows about who “had to take her last time” when she was the last kid standing in the lineup for picking teams. In a way, she didn’t blame her classmates for being so mean to her. Kickball was important, and she was well aware that she always kicked the ball not out to the bases but diagonally behind her, and that when playing in the outfield she ran away from the flying ball instead of catching it.
So many of us had experiences like that growing up. We were just ridiculously bad at sports. We made goals on the soccer field, except we were shooting into our own team’s goal while everyone else stood paralyzed on the field, screaming at us to stop. We tried intramural basketball, but most of our shots missed the backboard. We were knocked over in hockey, and checked with lacrosse sticks, and there was no way that we could ever hit a baseball. When we played Wiffle Ball in gym class, we snuck to the back of the line as we approached being up at bat.
Here’s a few things that people who are bad at sports should know: The inability to throw a perfect spiral football hasn’t marred us for life. Yes, we were snubbed and taunted as children, but it didn’t hurt the core of us. We were given opportunities that other people didn’t have, borne from having to invent our own fun at recess and scheming creative ways to sneak under the radar of gym teachers who were determined that “everyone will participate.” We were blessed with other faculties. We learned how much it hurts to be excluded and mocked, and made an effort for the rest of our lives to be inclusive. We’re better people because of it.
As adults, we took up yoga and running and never had to catch a ball again. We realized that we were created in the Divine image, and we cleared the blocks between our souls and bodies. We found other ways, besides sports, to be cool and to enjoy the company of our peers. With no small amount of schadenfreude, we saw our bullies on Facebook as adults — they were still living in our hometowns doing not much more than drinking beer and watching TV. Then we felt bad about judging them, because we know what it’s like to be judged. We gave them the good eye and prayed that their favorite show would come on and that their beer would be cold.
So what if you’re not good at sports. The healthy soul is aligned with purpose. We know that a Divine Higher Power believes in us and made us just the way that S/He wanted to. We found our true selves, and if we haven’t…we still know that we can.