"Youth is wasted on the young," said the great writer George Bernard Shaw, and I think yesterday's tennis partner and his sore lower body would agree. I dusted off the racket, bought for about $15 at Ross--is there anything they don't have there?--and proceeded to beat my friend 6-3, 6-3. His compliments were heartfelt, but there was an intensity and hardness of resolve that attached itself to his declaration that he would simply need "to make a few adjustments and get me next time." His forty-year-old body, though, may have something to say about that.
Do not get me wrong--forty is no advanced age. Forty is Favre, Jamie Moyer (at least 2003 Jamie Moyer), Dikembe Mutumbo (well, bad example)...it is an age that allows one physical freedoms that will not peter out fully for quite a while, hopefully.
But what would have happened had my friend had his incites, his mental acuity, when he was a seventeen-year-old speedster, equally adept at stealing bases, running deep routes on the football field, and leaking out early to his offensive side on missed jump shots?
What would have happened if I had possessed that killer instinct evident in so many one-point games at the local health club? What would have happened had I possessed the confidence (some might say stubborness) to shoot a three-pointer in rhythm, with my team down game point to 19 in a 21 point game?
The sixteen year old me was tireless, skinny, athletic, crafty for my age, and limited in my game by a shaky jump shot and an almost blind belief that my job was to be a garbageman, a banger, a rebounder who controlled the paint. Though it occurred to me that a 6'2" 145lb. center was a rarity, almost as unheard of as a 6'2" 145 dominant center, my previous coaching, my upbringing, and my fragile self-esteem dictated that I stay away from the perimeter and play my role.
What is about the macho need to impose one's will on an athletic match that makes one so stubborn? This high school version of me has spawned a coach who, impressed by the sheer force with which his high school coach derided zone defense as "for weakspirited teams," has very rarely called such a scheme into action for his high school teams, maybe at the expense of a win or two? Or three?
Perhaps youth and its lingering bravado is wasted on the kinda young, too...