Parties, sports and a dog

My weekend was great fun. A potluck at Rebecca’s Friday made for a good time. In addition to people from campus, she has befriended some good people beyond its borders. I am happy to share the fruit of her overtures even though I continue to be rather introverted myself. I third wheeled to a party thrown by graduate students Saturday. The medical school tends toward being socially insular. I had never met so many students from other programs. There was a variety of people from academia and several from without, and they were interesting, bright, witty and friendly.

I got to play both soccer and frisbee this weekend! It was the first such weekend in quite a while. The weather was backwards. Saturday brought drizzle and some sleet for outdoor frisbee, and Sunday was too gorgeous a day for indoor soccer played after sunset. I had plenty of fun both times anyway.

Soccer brought a little incident that I am still mulling. I am a spirited, if not especially talented, athlete. Even though I am not so good, I resent disregard with passion. In addition to skill deficits, I possess a completely unimposing physique. I am fast, though, much, much faster than anyone would guess upon first viewing. I like to think that I am quick for the general population; I know I am plenty fast for sports played with graduate students. My interpretation, admittedly a generous one, is that I draw my share of anger and then some because everybody and his little old grandmother size me up and think that they should beat me handily and even though I am what I am, I win a few. When somebody turns games into footraces, I win a few more. To attempt a little fairness, I am simply a jerk sometimes, too. I derive pleasure when my opponents anger if I can smile myself. It is either coolness under pressure or brazen mischief. Which one apparently depends on perspective and the particulars of each incident.

My Sunday soccer incident began when a guy trapped the ball between himself and the wall near his own goal with his back to the court. He is, no doubt, often a rude player. On a free kick, he once booted the ball into my face from about two feet away because he incorrectly thought he could kick it over me. I called him a name and told him not to do it. I think he pulls such garbage because he thinks he is better than most of us and better than he really is. I cannot tell how out of line I was Sunday, though. I popped the ball off the wall and then cut him off to pass to a teammate. I think my teammate then scored. He hotly said, “You know you can’t play from behind.” I said nothing. Maybe I shrugged my shoulders or smiled. Then I jogged back to my team’s end of the court for the next point. We play pickup, and we referee ourselves. We have many understood rules, and I am not sure about this one. We often call rough tackles, but I did not knock him. I cannot recall hearing anyone else call a foul over a steal from behind along a wall. I found rules prohibiting aggressive play from behind in one indoor league. I certainly did not crash into him, and I do not think that I kicked or tripped him. Maybe my play would have qualified as aggressive, though. Definitely nobody enjoys a whipping from somebody he thinks he should beat, even if it is only one tiny play in a long game, and my being much smaller probably only made it worse. Judging from past games, including last night, he is one whose effort soars while his performance drops once he becomes angry, and the ugly cycle continues until he leaves. He did not play well the rest of the time while I played about as well as usual. Toward the end of the game, I mostly played back, and I either blocked his shot or stole the ball every time I can remember matching up for the rest of the game. To my possibly (but not actually) paranoid mind, he was seeking me out, too. If he had been calm, he would have made it past me now and then. It was intoxicatingly fun. I scare myself a little in such moods. I have to repeat to myself that it is just a game, that I want maximum fun for myself and everyone else playing, that other people are not means to my joy, especially schadenfreude, and that glory and triumph, even piddling pickup game varities, are ephemeral.

How should I handle such situations? I can keep myself from taunting, but the glee is there. Should I have stopped and told him that he needed to calm down? He might have grown worse if I had played know it all. It ran through my head to say, “You’re just mad because you turned the ball over.” That one did not seem like such a good idea. I do want the proper respect that everyone deserves, and I want my opponents to recognize their mistakes. Pointing them out directly might not be the best way. I am not suave even when I want to be, and getting a little rise out of someone can be disaster for my humility and judgment. Was I in the wrong with my play? Should I have apologized? I wonder whether it ever crossed his mind to apologize for his mouth and subsequent aggression. I see three criteria for evaluating the possibilities. First, I want to act fairly for myself, my opponent and everyone playing. Second, I want to keep the game enjoyable for everyone else. Third, I want to promote good sportsmanship. What is the best way to handle someone who gets angry during a game? What is the best way to keep myself from being a jerk and ruining the time for others? I have been turning these questions over for the last day. It is too thrilling to cast myself as David teaching Goliath a lesson. To do so is to cast the situation too far in my own favor, though. Standing up for myself is one thing; playing punisher is another.

I will have a little dog friend soon. I will watch my sister’s dog for a few days next week. Ralph is a sweet dog, and I always enjoy keeping her even if she goes into gastrointestinal overdrive when she visits. We will have a good time, and I am looking forward to having her.


Michael M. on February 21st 2005 in General

4 Responses to “Parties, sports and a dog”

  1. rebecca responded on 22 Feb 2005 at 7:12 pm #

    Sweet! My dinner made the blog!!

    On other topics: seems like the “right” (read: non-spiteful) thing to do, if you actually want to defuse a situation like the one you were discussing, is to make a comment that is half a joke, and half a compliment – a way to reassure them that you still like & respect them. I wouldn’t worry that they need their mistake “pointed out” to them – most people know their mistakes (especially emotional ones) just fine, and even if they don’t, I think they’re more likely to really realize what they’re doing wrong if they see their own emotional response contrasted with your more mature one, rather than if you tell them in spite to stop being spiteful. Of course, I’m not always so good at following this advice – if what you really feel is that you don’t respect or like them, or if the only way you can prod yourself to try to be nice about it is by evoking a pity response, it can be hard for those emotions not to show through. If you figure out a way out of that problem, let me know. Just keep in mind I’m a terrible liar!

  2. Michael M. responded on 22 Feb 2005 at 8:55 pm #

    It was a good dinner.

    I was not mature. The experience made me giddy, and that feeling trumped the brief impulse toward anger and shame from his arrogantly critical outburst. I just managed to hold my tongue.

  3. Tori responded on 08 Nov 2018 at 3:19 pm #

    I love these areltics. How many words can a wordsmith smith?

  4. responded on 10 Nov 2018 at 2:32 pm #

    I love this salad, look fresh and delicious! aaah! Mary I adore Connor, he is sooooo cute and lovely, I love his smile, his feets! really, I love the kids ate this age, I remember my twins! Huggs gloria

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.