I have written a lot about the benefits playing sports had on my life. Truly an amazing experience and one in which to this very day and this very moment, I can cite incredible opportunities and experiences. But, I didn’t escape unscathed. Sometimes I scratch my head at my thought process and think to myself “man, sports really messed me up!”
Here’s what I mean…
LEARNING IS MY DRUG – I’m not one to torture myself physically in order to display of some sort of prowess. I do not ever feel the need to sign up for a race in the mud where I am electrocuted or smothered in cockroaches nor will I ever attempt to base jump off a rock face in a human wing suit just for the rush, but I have been known to take on challenges that push me physically and mentally when I have no business doing said activity. And I do this regularly.
I recently told a friend “I love the learning process. I’m a learning junkie, but once I’ve kind of figured it out, I’m all ‘meh.'” Learning, yes. Mastery, moving on. Dude, that’s messed up!
FILLING IN THE BLANKS – In sports you play a designated position. You are responsible for a specific spot on the court or field. You have responsibilities that you need to perform, people you need to block, balls you need to get to. In practice, you work to hone these specific skills and field/court positions, but errrrrybody knows in a game, you are playing to win so you just do what it takes. You fill in the blanks. There is an element of chaos in sports and even though athletes are trained to stick to their positions, we also instinctively know to react to chaos.
It’s why you see #79 (no one ever knows #79’s name) somehow get a hand on an interception and run six yards for a touch down. Chaos.
In life after sports, however, I’ve had to wait for people to ask me to do something or I will do all the things and then I’ll be tired like #79 because #79 isn’t supposed to run for touch downs (even if it’s only six yards). Dude, that’s messed up!
LETTING GO IS A REAL THING – There will be times when you have to walk away from something you care about. There will be people you cannot play well with. There will be times when you care about something way more than any other person involved in a given matter. There will be situations where there is no passion and there is no heart and you have to just let it go. There will be some situations you have to quit or give up on because it’s not worth what it costs you to stay involved and…Dude, that’s messed up!
QUITTING IS A NECESSARY EVIL – Winners never quit. Quitters never win. Never give up. Don’t give in. Lay it all on the line. Push yourself beyond your limit. No pain, no gain. All in. Blood, sweat, tears…I know, you wrote the book and yet, sometimes you must quit. It’s like taking a step backwards in order to move forwards but no one talks about that in sports and…Dude, that’s messed up!
MIND GAMES WITH YOURSELF – “Retirement” isn’t ever retirement. It’s just a mental shift and the deal you make with yourself when you agree to stop keeping score. Except, you have to try really hard to not keep score because, um, athletes always keep score. It’s built in self and team preservation. One day you get to a place where you realize “wow, I haven’t kept score in, like, two years and that’s awesome. Wait, no it’s not? What’s the score?” Dude, that’s messed up!
EVERY SONG IS A WALK-OUT SONG – Sometimes I walk into Target with the Queen/Bowie song “Under Pressure” in my head and I think I’m running out of the locker room onto the court. I’m walking into the game of my life, head high, chest puffed up and then I’m all “where is the toilet paper isle?” I don’t even have to tell you…Dude, that’s messed up!
40 DON’T MOVE LIKE 20 – Remember that line from Top Gun “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” Of course you don’t remember that quote, because only old people remember that quote! But that’s life after sports. Ego firmly in tact and writing checks all over town, body is like…Dude, that’s messed up!
Some of these are tongue in cheek, but some of these are for realsies. I think this is what makes transitioning from sports to regular, normal everyday life so difficult (yeah, everyday, normal). Wouldn’t change one thing about my experience and I don’t live in this place every day, but sometimes it sneaks up on me and…
Dude, that’s messed up!
Priscilla Tallman is a freelance writer and social media consultant in Phoenix, AZ. She holds her Crossfit L1 Trainer Certification as well as the CrossFit Mobility Certification and an undergraduate and graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She has written for Volleyball Magazine, The Art of Coaching Volleyball, Gorgo Fitness Magazine, Art Business News, CrossFit Fury and the CrossFit Games. She is married with two children and in a former life played collegiate and professional volleyball. Despite this post, she is well-adjusted and living a totally normal life after sports.