Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Last One Standing.

JavaChick mentioned in a recent blog post about her dislike of team sports, which got me thinking about how certain things shape you and your outlook on life.

When I was young, I despised team sports. I was not the most coordinated kid, and certainly one of the "outcasts" - tall, skinny, awkward. I was invariably chosen last, or next to last, for whatever team sport we happened to be forced to play. I was a shy, sensitive child, and afraid of everything. With good reason - my face seemed to be a magnet for whatever ball happened to be in my vicinity! I was hit with baseballs, volleyballs, basketballs and medicine balls. In the face. Every time. And occasionally on purpose.

The team captains were always the most popular girls in school, and excelled at sports. They would fight over the other girls in their clique, leaving the rest of us standing there, dreading the moment when we would be the last one standing; alone, unchosen. It was a horrible feeling to know in your heart that you and the mentally handicapped girl in class would be vying for last place! I still remember in elementary school, standing on the windy ball diamond, alone and humiliated, when the team captain said something to the effect that she guessed she'd have to take me in order to even out the teams .... I blamed the wind for the tears in my eyes!

It was a cruel way to choose teams, and it wasn't until junior high school that we finally had a teacher who seemed to recognize it and divided the teams more equitably by lining us up and taking every second girl for the opposing team. Didn't take the popular girls long to figure out how to get around that by standing with the girls they didn't want on their team in between them! But it saved the rest of us the humiliation of standing alone, waiting to be chosen.

Of course, I did exact a small measure of revenge on some of those girls. I could whip a lot of their butts when it came to badminton or some of the track and field sports! But the humiliation experienced on the ball diamond has stayed with me all these years, and I think it has shaped how I view myself and my place in the world.

So you can keep your baseball bats and soccer balls, but put a badminton racquet in my hand and you'd better watch out! I will be the last one standing.

21 comments:

Cicily Janus said...

Ha! A true take back to the days of embarrassment and hate for the age of wonderment. Love it...

Miz said...

such a true take. I was horrible in gym class and when I wasnt begging the dr for a note to get out of it I spend entire class periods trying to get the SAME FREAKIN VOLLEYBALL over a net.
while the teacher grew frustrated with me as if I were messing around.

nope.
crappy coordination.

Marianne said...

Yeah, trainwreck here as well. I did OK in square dancing, meaning that there were a few people with toes left at the end of the session. Our school had a trampoline. In the gym on the hard floor. No sissy padding around the edges or mats on the floor. If you fell, you got hurt. It's a wonder any of us are psychopaths...

Hilary said...

You and I would have been the last two skinny, awkward bodies standing together, methinks. I remember when Crabby had a blog post about team sports in school, and how it astounded her that so many of us felt this way. PE teachers seemed clueless about self-esteem. They had to be aware of the fact that the same few kids suffered that humiliation every time, and yet they could never (bother to) find a way around it - when so many options existed.

I think I'd still cringe at the thought of joining a team sport, but you and I sure would have a fun game of badminton.. or table tennis. ;) And you'd want me on your Trivial Pursuit team for sure. :)

the Bag Lady said...

Cicily - Thanks for stopping by - sounds as though I wasn't the only one this happened to!

Miz - You, too? It was horrid, wasn't it?

Marianne - square dancing was one of the things I could do, too! And we used to have "spotters" around the trampoline. You always wanted your friends to be spotters.... really.

Hilary - I think a lot more of us suffered than one would think. I'd like to hear those popular girls' takes on it ("I was always the captain of the team, and always got stuck with that stupid kid who kept getting hit in the face with the ball! It scarred me for life, having to put up with her....")And I would always want you on my team for Trivial Pursuit! Or even for Serious Pursuits!! :)

Leah J. Utas said...

Df Bag Lady, that was me, too. Being the best speller in class gets you nowhere in the gym.
Some of those team captains didn't get very far in life.
BTW, I took a lacrosse ball to the side of the face and was once nailed in the chest with a volleyball. Good, good memories.

the Bag Lady said...

dfLeah - so..... it runs in the family? You have a magnet in your face too? :)

JavaChick said...

I have serious volley ball fear. I could never understand why anyone thought standing around waiting for a volley ball to come flying at your face is fun. Wish we had played badminton - that I actually like.

Missicat said...

Loved badminton as a kid! I was pretty uncoordinated overall, which was really bad since most of my siblings excelled in sports. *sigh* Guess that's why I switched to running.....I had mean gym teachers who mocked me for being unable to make baskets in basketball.

the Bag Lady said...

JavaChick - I know the feeling!
Badminton was something I quite enjoyed.

Missicat - another badminton player! Hey, we could have a tournament! :)
I had a few mean gym teachers, too.

Reb said...

Oh, but Sis, at least we could sing and got to go to Europe! God, I hated the team sports and of course the skiing, thankfully I was able to get out of that because of my asthma.

POD said...

Is this why you brought up the subject of the woman with the face transplant earlier today?

bunnygirl said...

I was very bad at team sports, largely because I had no clue how bad my eyes really were. Other kids would yell at me to hit or catch a ball I literally couldn't see.

I wasn't a popular kid in general, and that didn't make me any more desirable on a sport team.

I loved individual sports though, and I think PE programs back in the day did kids a great disservice by not devoting at least equal time to individual activities that promote lifetime fitness. Not everyone wants to be competitive and it's certainly the case that most of us grownups can't easily put together an eleven-person team every time we need a workout!

Charlotte said...

You pretty much just described my experience with gym class in grades 1 thru 9! I was a military brat and since we moved so much people seemed to assume that since I had no friends (I was new!) that meant that I didn't deserve any. I still get sick remembering those days... To this day I really don't like team sports. Even though my friends now are much kinder and wouldn't mock me.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

df Bag Lady,

Being older than you all, I can tell you that in the 1950s from grades one through eight, when the boys had gym, we girls had reading!

I went to an all-girls high school (grades nine through twelve) and although we did have gym, we had an excellent gym teacher who was only a few years older than we were so she never allowed any nonsense. All these years later I still fancy myself a reasonably good basketball and volley ball player,when in truth, I was terrible.

Terrie

kcinnova said...

Bag Lady, you & I have a a lot of things in common. I know quite well the feelings you described.

Redbush said...

I feel for ya, Bag Lady! Now, I on the otherhand died to play basketball, softball, and soccer occasionally. I loved gym class! I am also one of those people who love to watch sports on t.v. O.k! Enough already! But, I know a teacher who used to pick the teams herself, and it used to tick off the athletes because she would purposely pick the ones first that she knew felt like they would be last. Oooo, a little confusing wording, but, you get my drift. It also helped to have the teams picked in a hurry because it was definitely at random. She also used to pick boy, girl, boy, girl so that all the boys wouldn't be able to be picked first. She wasn't your young whipper-snapper teacher either. She had taught for 30 some odd years! I'm glad you whipped their butts in badminton and track and field!

the Bag Lady said...

Reb - yes, we did get to sing in some great venues in Europe! Made up for a lot, didn't it?

POD - now that you mention it... (have you ever seen my face in profile? Hehehehehe)

BG - I got yelled at a lot, too. Mostly when we were playing baseball, because they would stick me way, way out in center field, and I'd be daydreaming.... writing stories in my head, then SMACK, the ball would hit me. Sigh.

Charlotte - I feel for you. It would have been terrible to always be the new kid! By the sounds of things, almost all my commenters could make up a team of misfits! :) (and Redbush could be our coach!)

dfTerrie - you can be the captain of the misfit team! I'm sure you were better than you let on.

kcinnova - you wanna join our misfits team, too?

Redbush - I know you are athletic, and enjoy sports! You can be our coach, okay?

solarity said...

Another badminton lover here! I still gloat over the fact that in my college Orientation to Phys Ed class (where we did a week of all the sports) there were so many of us who loved badminton that our teacher created a PE credit class in badminton for us for the next term.

I was always one of the last ones picked, but it didn't bother me. I knew I was terrible at softball, but the ones who were good at it and did the picking knew how bad my sight was, even with my glasses ("Ball? What ball?") and tried, uselessly, to coach me. I remember the pitcher on the other team urging me as he pitched to me "Imagine it's Greg's head, Mary Anne! Hit it!" (I'm very fond of Greg, even after 45 years, but he was an extremely annoying 12 year old.)

Mary Anne in Kentucky

the Bag Lady said...

Mary Anne in Kentucky - it sounds as though the people who surrounded you when you were growing up were a lot kinder than the ones I grew up with!

Redbush said...

Your coach?! Be careful what you wish for! He He!