There are things that I might say in this post that people who play sports or are sports fans will already know. They will wonder why I am just clueing in now. Remember I have never played any sport and have never really been a spectator or devoted fan (other than to the Rams in the last 8 years).
I have not had many significant failures in my life (other than not getting jobs I had applied for) and so I don’t really know how to cope with the idea of “losing”. I have not engaged in many activities where to win or be successful, someone else must lose. One of the reasons that I don’t buy lottery tickets is because I find not winning anything so sad and disappointing.
I have spent a lot of time with the players on the women’s basketball team – I see how hard they work and the hours that they must devote to their sport, to their team, to improving their own individual performance. I have watched them get injured and struggle. I have watched them laugh and dance around the locker room. I have heard them complain and talk excitedly about their classes and school work. I have met some of their parents. I so want them to be happy and successful. I so want them to win and achieve their goals. I really really really want them to win when they play and I can’t do anything to help make that happen. I am finding this difficult.
They just finished the first part of their season this weekend as exams start next week. They have had 6 regular season games so far, all in the month of November and have won 5 and lost 1. They lost to Windsor, who are five time national champions. I could not attend that game and was watching on-line. They were leading for three quarters of the game and then lost it in the fourth. I was devastated for them and didn’t really know what to do with that sense of disappointment – I found it so overwhelming. On Saturday I was sitting on the bench in the gym at University of Toronto for their last game this semester. I normally help keep stats but have found that I am so focused on watching the action that I completely forget to record what I am supposed to record. On Saturday I didn’t even try. The game was an important one for so many reasons. It was the last game of the first half of the season. They had lost last year in U of T’s newly opened gym. They had beat U of T in their home opener by over 40 points, but all indications were that U of T was playing really well and we all knew that the Blues really wanted to win this one after their crushing loss to us on November 3.
The Rams took an early lead and led the game throughout. Did I mention that I really really really wanted them to win? At some point mid way through the 4th quarter U of T closed the gap and was only behind by one point. I was so scared that this was going to go the way of the Windsor game that I felt sick to my stomach. This team that I have “joined” is talented, tough, determined and they don’t give up…in the end they won to take the BIA Cup (this is an in-season downtown rival competition with a cup provided by the Downtown Toronto Business Improvement Association). It was really fun to be in the middle of the celebration.
I have been talking about this experience with my husband who played football, hockey and baseball as a young man and is a sports fan – he is a die-hard Leafs fan, a Blue Jays fan and a New York Giants fan. When he saw my disappointment after the Windsor loss he said to me “Honey, you are just not a sports guy…you don’t have the stomach for it”. He also said that the “too close for comfort” games are what its all about – down to the wire, bottom of the 9th, end of the 4th quarter, going into OT – this is what makes it so exciting sitting on the edge of your seat, feeling each point, run, goal deeply, emotionally. He is so right, I don’t have the stomach for it.
I know with every game we play this season that I, the coaches and the players really want the team to win. They have worked really hard to prepare themselves to win basketball games against any opponent in the country. I also know that each team we face has also worked really hard and really really wants to win too. They especially want to beat Ryerson given the success that this program has had in the last few years. A win against Ryerson is a really important and coveted win. What I am most impressed with is that despite being frustrated and disappointed by any loss, these young women are well accustomed to the fact that each game has only one winner and one loser. They carry on, keep working, keep striving toward their goals – they are not devastated. The next day they are back in the gym, working hard, trying to get better, facing new strains and injuries.
Tennis player Chris Evert said…
“If you can react the same way to winning and losing, that’s a big accomplishment. That quality is important because it stays with you the rest of your life, and there’s going to be a life after tennis that’s a lot longer than your tennis life”.
I was really, really, really happy that they won the game on Saturday night, but if I am going to get through this experience when the season resumes in January I need to learn how to toughen up when it comes to my internal emotional reactions. The women on the Ryerson basketball team, who are just doing what they have always done, playing their sport that they have each played for years probably have no idea how much they are teaching me about lots of things.
I guess they’ll know now.