Why everyone should play sports regardless of ability

Photo+of+the+VWS+Junior+Varsity+Basketball+Team+taken+from+the+El+Espejo+2019-2020+yearbook.

Kaylynn Chang ('23)

Photo of the VWS Junior Varsity Basketball Team taken from the El Espejo 2019-2020 yearbook.

In my earlier years, I was never one for sports; I would never watch any games when the weekend rolled around, nor would I have ever thought of signing up for one at my school. The most sports I had ever played were those in Physical Education class or the makeshift baseball I would play with my dad in my backyard 

To this day, I still do not know what possessed me to take up basketball, a full-on contact sport. I vaguely remember the beginning of my sports “career” in seventh grade, but the feeling of wanting to challenge and push myself is still fresh to this day.  

It was embarrassing, frustrating, and difficult to come to terms that I would never live up to the talent I had dreamed of when I started to play. I thought I would be the one to dominate the court and make that gamewinning shot. I was blinded by my own personal challenge, trying to bring my fantasy to reality. It was much to my dismay when I lost control over the ball and was one step too late to defend in my first game. However, not only was it the practice I needed; I needed a change of mindset. I needed to be strong, but no matter what I did, I could not shake my fear off. 

The memories from my first few games are very foggy, maybe because I do not wish to recount them. I remember being so frustrated that my arms and legs would not follow my brain’s frantic instructions. My heart hammered against my chest so hard I could not hear. My mouth felt like I had downed a bag of sand no matter how much water I drank. My body kept shivering in anticipation. To most, a  middle school game would not mean much. To me, it was a test of my skills, a test of my ability as a person. 

I decided not to rejoin next year. I could not face the fear of failure again. 

Fast forward a couple years, and I entered high school, ready to give basketball another chance. I willingly signed up this time, seeking a fresh start. This time, I was more determined to find out how I could play the sport to improve in my own way instead of beating myself up about my abilities. 

During a quotidian home game, I scored two baskets and a free throw. While this may not be much to most players, it was more than enough for me to have my ambition come roaring back; it was enough to spark my desire to play again and again in hopes of capturing that feeling of glee once more. Scoring in a game rekindled my confidence and inspired me to keep pushing no matter what failures I encounter.  

Failure is embarrassing, revolting, and possibly one of the worst feelings ever, but we are not meant to always fail. No matter what, small victories lie on our path, and it is up to us to continue in the hopes of conquering them. The turning point in how I viewed myself was realizing that I could do it. It may sound cheesy, but I half-heartedly believed in myself which caused me to apply half of my confidence into my plays. 

I learned throughout playing as an average player that my mindset of becoming the best was flawed. I was trying to prove to myself that being the best would make me more worthy of a player, when it should have been all about bettering myself in a way that I could appreciate my growth.  

Whether it be competition with yourself, your friends, or an opposing team, sports provide a remarkable thrill. Taking up sports is the easiest way to capture this feeling at its best because it is a continuous race to better yourself. To take the winning shot, to cross the finish line, or to be met with cheers is just the most exhilarating feeling that is often hard to find. I truly believe that everyone should play a form of sports in order to know what it is like to lose, to win, and to strive, and to improve.  

Another concept I love about playing sports bring is the ability to challenge every aspect of your being: both physically and mentally. Your body carries on with the urging of your mind. You urge yourself into fighting the ultimate battle, proving to yourself that you are stronger than you believe.  

In my experience, the way you play sports reflects your innermost personality. For me, the lack of trust in my ability and panic to not mess up showed clearly in my gameplay, which caused me to mess up and shrink my presence on the court. However, playing sports has allowed me to directly challenge that mentality. Sports has provided me for the first time in my life, a way to control the way I view myself in a more positive light by proving I can do it. 

Regardless of athletic ability, everyone should be able to feel what it is like to test the limits of yourself. Everyone should feel rewarded with the efforts put into it, and sports will reward you with confidence. Nothing inspires as much as when a person, even for a moment, can prove that they can do it. For me, the clear-cut feeling of relief when a shot swishes in provides a rush of confidence, and in the moment, you bask in the spotlight as your coach and teammates cheer you on.  

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” said professional ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky. I used to ironically keep this phrase in mind, using it as a half-serious pickmeup when I felt embarrassed or frustrated. However, this phrase absolutely rings true; every chance I took was a gamble, and whether the results were satisfactory or not, I had the utmost satisfaction knowing I had tried.  

No matter the skill level you possess, everyone should play a form of sports to challenge themselves to not become the best; but become the best “you” that you can possibly be. Maybe it does not even have to be sports; maybe it could be anything that involves the sense of competition. At the end of the day, it is up to you to tap into that deep well of potential that you hold inside of you.