April 1, 2008

I JUST wanted a t-shirt...

...Was it too much to ask?

Since September, I’ve been playing in a Monday night intermediate co-ed volleyball league. Three leagues have gone by now. Fall, Winter, and Spring, which just wrapped up last night. We have a crude team name—Bumpin’ Ugly—but make no mistake, we’re a slick operation. And we have tons of fun.

And fun is the point. But eventually, at the end of each league when it comes down to playoff night, we tell ourselves “we want the t-shirt!” The shirts to which I refer can be awarded for two reasons.
1. You’re the bestest team and you beat everyone else.
2. You’re the funnerest team, and you get a t-shirt for simply having a good attitude.

Sadly, the opportunities to win six t-shirts have come and gone, and I’ve nothing to show for it. It’s quite unbelievable, really. Constantly at the top of our pool, we always manage to lose out on the finals. Last night, we rallied back from a 12 point deficit to tie it up and keep ourselves in the game, and then blew the last two services receptions. There went a shot at the title, and with it, my dreams of fresh-pressed 100 % cotton gently caressing my torso.

No worries though, we still had a fun points t-shirt coming! We’re always at the top of those standings! Oh no, wait. Some team drank their faces off at one of the sponsor pubs on the weekend, submitted their receipts during playoff night, and were awarded extra ‘funpoints’, and thus, the t-shirt.

I says pardon?

we're second place because someone out-drank us? what is this, high school? I mean, I’m used to playing second fiddle, don't get me wrong...I'm pretty used to losing. Okay, so there’s the American Nationals sprint race kayaking gold medal I won back when I was 16. But please… it was against Americans. It was too easy; they suck at everything (take a joke, my American friends, take a joke). Okay, I did come ninth in Canada at our own sprint nationals one year. But that just means I was dead last in the finals. Okay, there’s the tournament MVP awards… (from high school, >cough, sputter< ignore that part and pretend it wasn’t ten years ago)… and there’s all free goodies I win for being caller nine to the radio station...does this stuff count for anything?

In college volleyball, just when I was finally coming into my own, I cut off my fingers and there went what was likely to be my best performing season ever! The next year, when I was back in fighting shape and ready to play, I was not only playing, but was named team captain of my college team! And then the team folded before we even got started.

In a last ditch effort to play some high-level ball, I looked into the Canadian Paralympics volleyball program, now that I was an amputee and all. Turns out I couldn’t even cut off my own fingers to match up with any sort of high standard. My index is about a half-inch too long to be allowed on the squad!
…okay, now I know I’ve hit rock-bottom in the wallowing pool of self pity… complaining that I still have a functional digit on my hand? That’s pathetic.

Okay, okay, I’ll put this whole t-shirt thing into perspective. I have a whole drawer full of t-shirts. I don’t need another one, especially when others in our city would love to have at least that much. And, I’ve got enough money in the bank to let me pay to play in these leagues in the first place. And, I’m healthy enough (save a few knee issues...oi!) to be able to play volleyball and a lot of other games, even without fingers on one hand.

What’s more, I have a great lookin’, national champion kayakin’, rhodes scholar brain trust, good chef, caring and loving, doctor of a wife, who’s currently carrying in her belly what is the greatest accomplishment in my whole darn life; a baby.

Maybe I can teach that baby that having fun and doing your best is more important than winning, even though it’s nice to be on top of the podium now and again. What’s more, being able to afford a house in one of the most expensive cities in the country is a pretty amazing feat. And that having a great job like mine that you love to get up for everyday is worth every penny, no matter what they pay you. And that just being surrounded by people that love you makes for a winning team for your whole life, not just for a season.

At some point the kid will understand that what its dad is trying to say is that while he may consider himself the bridesmaid in a lot of life’s little sporting challenges, the big, important stuff makes him feel like a winner pretty much all the time.

And that’s worth more than a t-shirt any day of the week.
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