My husband taught me to enjoy watching basketball. I loved seeing the Lakers play hard. They were connected one another like they were one creature. I’d watch the ball bounce between the players and from team to team.
The ball didn’t always go where my team wanted it to go. When I first met these Lakers, I was wound so tight in my life I only knew perfectionism. In awe, I watched those players get it wrong. They were at the top of their game and still made dozens of mistakes in front of the whole world on TV. For them, somehow it was ok.
They made a lot of mistakes, which would have collapsed me. At that time, I worked tirelessly to never make a mistake. I didn’t make very many, and when I did I dedicated myself to making it right as soon as possible. The shameful mistake be corrected fast and forgiven by anyone who had seen it.
But those teams didn’t cover it up, they didn’t hide from each other. They slapped hands and said “That’s ok, keep going.”
Miraculous. They let it roll off, they helped each other get better. What an extraordinary way of being! I figured this must be why they were top in the game.
But time went by and my life got bigger. I learned more about how sports and teams play. It turns out that their interactions were not so rare. In fact, this is part of the attitude all sports teams are supposed to have: Being a good sport.
I have finally been brought personally into the world of sports as my daughter has joined the world of Karate and its tournaments. It is an individual performance, not a team action.
As I take her to these careening, noisy events, I’ve seen how things shake out. It’s disorganized confusion and then there are the judges.
The referees test the edges of good sportsmanship. I’ve seen it…Sometimes they are totally wrong. They see what isn’t there or don’t see what is.
That’s when the players, the athletes have to do that hardest thing of all:
This is the price of the joining the game. It’s great when the team has each other’s back, but then comes the part when things are cruelly unfair.
It’s part of the same game. Both things have the same answer. Move on. The next play, or even the next game is still coming. Keep moving, keep trying and next time it could work out.
I had failed in my early perfectionism. The refs in my life had made bad calls again and again. I had made fantastic plays that dissolved because no one had caught the handoff.
My best answer was to walk on. There is another game coming up, if I stay ready.