I've been fooling myself for the past few years. I love basketball and I used to be fairly good at it. So when I was living in Massachusetts from 2008 until this past August I started playing pick up games with the neighborhood kids...
Sure I was a little sore afterwards but I felt like a champ. The kids thought I was the second coming of Michael Jordan. And, you know what? I began to believe some of the hype.
Oh, did I mention these kids were no older than sixth grade... and that the basket we played on was just 8 feet high rather than the standard 10 feet?
Well, I got jolted back into reality last evening when I agreed to join my neighbor Todd for a pickup game with a few other guys at a local gym. I expected to be playing against men of a certain age... meaning my age of 50.
Reality sure does bite
What I confronted was eight talented, in-shape and young -- as in 20s -- guys. There were two other older guys like me and from the start we were horribly outmatched.
I figured I was in for a long evening when I was puffing after the pre-game shootaround. I was right.
These guys play to 100... by ONES! The last time I did that Richard Nixon was in the White House.
The one break I got was the ability to switch in and out with my buddy Alan. I probably was on the floor for a fourth of the game. That was plenty of playing time.
Playing those mind games
While I did not totally embarrass myself, I did discover something about the mind and body working on separate planes. No, I wasn't smoking anything illegal.
What I mean here is that even though my mind knew what I should do and when I should do it -- Shoot now! Step in front of that guy! Steal the ball! Get back on defense fast! -- my body refused to play along.
The mental commands came fast and furious, but my feet and hands did not follow. They seemed perfectly content to conserve energy and operate in slow motion.
Thankfully, much of the night's action is a blur now. I am creaking, sore and lumbering around my home much like The Tin Man... before he got his oil.
Even though I continue to tell myself I could hang with these guys after several more court outings, the truth is that I am past my basketball-playing prime and I am better off sticking to playing against sixth graders or senior citizens.
Springsteen was right...
Glory days well they'll pass you by
Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days
It's a bitter pill to swallow. But it's all the more reason to stick with my diet and to continue to work towards better shape.
Have you had any epiphanies about aging or life? If so, let me know here in the comment section.
Author: John McGran