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The shocking truth behind an unathletic sports director

POSTED: March 19, 2014 9:00 a.m.

 

I have often joked with you all about how profoundly unathletic I am. This was no deception.

My parents lovingly attended most of my sporting events as a youth despite my lack of impressive skill or adorable "highlights."

Seriously, I was right there in the middle between talented and fun to watch. It was awful.

Sure, I did all of the kid standards like baseball and basketball to little avail. I stood in deep right field or came in when I couldn’t hurt the team.

I even tried rollerblading and ice skating, neither of which supported my similarly atrocious balance. I was a notorious wall-hugger at the rink, even though I love hockey and would play it if I had the ability to stand up on skates, much less move on them.

I even tried my hand at snowboarding, which may explain my issue since it’s a sport that really doesn’t need much hand action, but I digress. I will be snowboarding again in a week or so, and we’ll see if I’ve gotten any better. Results don’t look good, though.

No, I have explained to you all my lengthy failures at sports. Fortunately I have a naturally gifted tongue for writing (there I go again using the wrong body parts for activities), or else I would not be allowed within a furlong of most sports. Yes, even horse racing.

That does not mean, however, that I have never taken part in scholastic sports.

My most loyal readers (I’d like to take this moment to wish you a happy birthday; I love you!) will remember that I have previously talked about my time in high school track when I threw discus and shot put. As a fourth-year senior, though, I barely cleared 90’ in discus and 31’ in shot put, so there were no glorious triumphs to be had there, either.

That is not the arena I wish to discuss today. No, when I was in middle school...I was a falcon.

What? I got better.

No, I was the mascot for the Dacula Middle School 8th grade basketball team.

I was a big, blue Falcon.

I find no personal shame in this revelation, though. Those were fun times, indeed. It meant, for one, that I never had to pay to get into a sporting event, a tradition I proudly uphold today with my own little golden ticket known as a press pass.

It also meant that I got to hang out with cheerleaders, among them my future wife (look at there, you get two shout-outs in today’s column; must be somebody’s birthday), and actually stand on-court with the athletes and...cheer? Clap in costume?

That was always the hard part for me. What was a middle school mascot supposed to do? I guess whatever any mascot did, just smaller.

I tried the classics like the worm, and that was fun. It hurt, let me tell you, bouncing around in a styrofoam cage, but I did it. I flopped around like a dying fish that was supposedly a worm.

I even once got to witness a mascot fight. I was so eager to be the mascot that I went to one game that I wasn’t even assigned to. I just went for the fun of it in case my time to shine came. Well, it did.

One of the other mascots was doing the playful back-and-forth with the Meadowcreek Mustang, but it went overboard and they actually started fighting in the costumes.

Punches were thrown. Feathers flew. Hooves went everywhere. Dogs and cats. Living together. Mass hysteria.

You have not lived until you have seen an actual mascot fight.

Either way, I put on the costume that night and got to go. It was a good time.

Sure, there were negatives. It was boiling hot in that thing, first of all. You literally lost twenty pounds in sweat. Well, that’s a ballpark figure.

Sometimes, kids would cry at the sight of you. It was very not cool.

The two single greatest benefits, though, were when those kids smiled to take pictures with you, and when you realized you did not have to smile because nobody could see your face. That’s living the dream.

Truth is, I loved it. I even took the suit home one weekend to scare my dog.

I would go on to wear similar costumes for church events I enjoyed it so much. Ever heard of Cubby Bear? Wore it.

I may not possess any incredible athletic talent. I may never ride in the cavalry or shoot the artillery. I may not be good at sports.

But you know what? I like them. And I like being a part of them however I can.

Did Smalls play baseball well? No! But you love him anyway and he’s part of the game.

There’s nothing wrong with not liking sports, but there’s nothing wrong with having to get creative to find your place in sports, either. If you want it, find it. Get out there, sport, and be sporty.

 

 

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