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Friday, August 1, 2014

"Game of Life" By Erin Mann

The Game of Life
By Erin Mann

The clock starts to tick off seconds, sometimes feeling faster than we want them to.  We try desperately to retain the control, strength, and endurance we have built over years of practice.  We cling to the hope that our minds are sharp enough to follow the strategy and remember how to utilize the plays that have been proven effective in the past.  We pray silently within ourselves for the courage to push forward, hopping from offense to defense and back to offense again with little to no warning.  The referee makes an unfair call, but sometimes we still have to pay a penalty even when it isn’t justified based on the opinions of a stranger or someone who simply doesn’t care for our demeanor or look.
 We are left at times, wondering why the ref didn’t call and penalize the personal foul that seemed so obvious to be against us. Deafened by the loud buzzing and whistles of pauses that often disrupt our focus,  pumped with adrenaline from the cheer of our fans to push forward, drug down by the disappointments in us that we leave sometimes with those who we have yearned to impress.  There are days when we drown in our own sweat, and other days we are cleansed by it.  
The period of the game ends before we are finished putting points on the board and we are forced to sit an excruciating time out plotting our vengeance to regain the lead  when we lost it.
 We stay committed to our survival in this game we call life.  Unsure of the outcome because it can change on a dime.  It is dependant on us as individuals and as a team.  We try so hard to understand the motivation and thoughts from across a glossy court or yours of green that live in the mind of our partners - those we depend on to pull us through when we can’t make the necessary attempts for ourselves.  We mumble through our breath in a tone of frustration they can’t hear, demands we put on them and expectations for their commitment to be on the same level as our own.  Catch the pass, play by the rules, shoot the ball, I see the injury sneaking behind you so turn around and face it,  I’m right here and wide open - toss it back to me, have faith in me, pull me out coach I need a break to catch my breath.  
The the spiral of brown laces leather of dribble of this orange sphere that represents the sound of my heart, beating harder and faster as the passion and excitement sneaks in.  The game is too close to call, others are betting on us to lose, but some are betting on us to win. Will we trip and lose possession or will we fall and still get the points from the free throw.? Will my receiver catch the pass that I throw? I will hold my breath until it’s safely in their hands and not in the hands of those who will fight against me.   
As a woman, I so often can’t see the point or understand the rules of the sport, but even though I may not be able to recognize the terminology, the point system, the positions on the courts or fields, I do see the beautiful metaphor it represents and how people can become so entangled in it’s excitement.  It represents life.  Offense versus Defense, injuries, exhaustion, pushing ourselves to do better, practicing when no one is looking, making that comeback that no one was able to see coming, the personal fouls, unfair calls, the importance of teamwork and independence finding a balance, strategy, the limitation of time, the excitement, the motivation, and the passion to drive us.  It is all of the things we face in life, in relationships, in jobs, in parenting, in friendships - legally, religiously, financially, morally, etc.  It is a playbook we create with each and every moment we go through - victory or defeat -  another page, another signal, another skill, another setback - each are calculated, learned and created.  Some of the plays work, some don’t, but if we do well enough at pairing them to our opposers we could make history.  
Never did I predict that I would understand the purpose of a sport - regardless of its design-  football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, tennis, etc.
 It doesn’t really matter, they all were designed to represent in their own ways life and love - and it fits, all of it makes sense when you break it down.  I see it now, I get it… and I hope to bridge that gap and make that foreign language called “sports” a concept that makes sense and is a little more meaningful and emotional to those who don’t follow them, like me.  I hope I will be the voice that someone who has the passion in playing and watching them can use to describe it’s importance to someone else who doesn’t understand.  It is life represented and fought for, beautiful and ugly - dirty and cleansing - good seasons and bad.  Who would’ve thought I would be a real life fan?

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