How Do You Win When Victory Is a Sin?

Posted: August 27, 2013 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

volleyball pacifierOne of the strangest, most awful and growing experiences I ever had was the month I spent wrestling with my angels over whether or not I could win playing volleyball.

I was brought up, or at least taught, to believe in peace, nonviolence, cooperation, generosity, and helping others. Needless to say I got whacked off the field, off the track, and off the court every time I tried to play a sport.

Along came volleyball. Volleyball is the game that I love. When you jump into the air, it feels like you’re flying. When you block a spike, you are the Great Wall of China and your name is DENIAL. When you dig out a ball, you have reached both hands and your head into a great white shark’s mouth to pull out a baby, done it, and patted the shark on the head on the way out. And when you stretch so far after a dropping ball that it feels like your soul is stretching too, and somehow you pop the ball up in the air, that’s when you know God plays volleyball.

So I got into it. I took the beginner’s clinic at the Pacific Beach Rec Center, and I practiced on my own. Winning wasn’t on my radar at first. My sixteen months of playing didn’t compare to the sixteen years or more that everyone else had under their belts. This is San Diego. Kids are playing sports as soon as they can walk. They sell pacifiers with volleyballs on them.

You can only work so hard for so long and stay the same so-called “loser” that you were when you started out. Your head goes through a shift. You know you’re better. It’s time to look at yourself in a different way. It’s a challenge.

People aren’t looking at you like the lovable loser you used to be. You’re a threat. You’re treated like one. People that you thought were friends are smashing the ball on you hard. You want to hate them. You won’t let yourself. You’re the nice guy. You don’t want to become one of those heartless a-holes who used to laugh at you.

I remember asking myself, how can I win without hating anyone? How can I beat them without becoming someone I don’t want to be? There are a lot of people in this world who don’t give a damn. I’m not one of them.

I kept playing. Half the time I fought myself.

My brother told me about a trip he took to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Someone had posted a top 10 list of things that you need to do to win. Number one was, “Let yourself win.” This kept knocking on the back door of my brain asking to be let in.

One day I made the connection. They’re playing hard because that’s the game. What if I were in their shoes? Someone who doesn’t have my hangups, watching someone play, watching them dial it back, because they couldn’t stand what they were doing? I would tell him, no. Dude. Play hard. That’s what the game is all about. Beat me. Playing as hard as you can to beat me is the most respect you could ever show me. If you play better, it makes me play better, and then we all have a better time.

So I did. I don’t know what I did that night. I know that I played better. I had a couple of blocks. I had a good pass. I went for a spike that actually made it over the net. People on both sides of the net clapped and said, “Good job, Matt!” I didn’t even know they knew my name.

That’s victory.

This post is brought to you by the WordPress Daily Post prompt “Victory.”

  1. […] How Do You Win When Victory Is a Sin? | The Daily 400 […]


  2. […] How Do You Win When Victory Is a Sin? | The Daily 400 […]


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