A digression

A strange story came to mind today for some reason. When I was seventeen, the coach of an American Football team tried to recruit me after seeing me play rugby. He told me that I'd get to hurt people. But he missed the mark then and that hasn't changed over the years.

Yes, I've hurt people and been hurt by people but that's a by-product of what I have done, not been the objective in its own right. Then I played rugby for the simple of joy of it, for the immersion and freedom from my own head space. There was a challenge element to it, to see if I could, not about beating others but not being defeated myself. You win, you lose, but those are just marks on a tally board. You're never beaten until you quit. Other people can take everything from you but your spirit. That you give away of your own accord. Other people live that thought more than I have; have expressed it far more eloquently than I ever will, and have tested it in far harsher conditions than hopefully I will ever see, but it is still true.

I don't play rugby of either code any more. I lost the love for it. Controversially, I occasionally get a feeling that I might like to try my hand at league again. Sure it reshaped my nose and I had some of my worst losses in any sport playing it but for out and out passion, for the challenge, for the feeling afterwards of having nothing left to offer, I have experienced few things like it. Of course, my body is too broken for those kind of shenanigans these days. Maybe I should get those things sorted but I don't fancy volunteering for surgery and it probably belongs in a different chapter of my life anyway.

For me now, the challenge is in developing others. Not necessarily to be stronger, fitter, faster, although those things happen. I get the buzz from helping them realise as much of their potential as they can with the resources and commitment they have. There will always be somebody out there who is bigger, fitter, stronger, nastier or better. That's life. The mission is to make the best  possible account of yourself. And to figure out how to do that with what you've got, so that you can enjoy the ride...if not while it's happening, then to have something you can look back on with pride and a smile.

I guess that's not just sport.


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