3:33 Sports Short #25 // Quitter by Brooke Randel

Filed under: 3:33 Sports Shorts, Blog |

The first sport I quit was softball. I had been playing since elementary school, but by junior high, everyone had become bigger and stronger. They outgrew me. My bat speed wasn't fast enough, my fielding wasn't fast enough, I wasn't fast enough. I didn't even quit fast enough. The last season I played I got beaned in the head by a foul ball from another game.

The next sport I quit was basketball. This was the hardest one to quit. I had loved basketball more than anything else. Point came natural to me. Everyone may have been bigger and stronger, but they couldn't ball handle like I could. I could dribble low, weave it between my legs, around my back, around the girl guarding me. But after years spent practicing, scrimmaging, playing, traveling, training and competing, I started to dread it. The fluidity and joy I once felt—the snap of a crisp pass, the swish of a clean shot—was gone. What had been passion became convention. I played because I always played. But the game I loved now felt mechanical, unfun. I spent an entire year working up the courage to quit and then I did. After six years, I finally quit.

After basketball, I quit lacrosse. That was easy. I went to a large college.

Just this fall, I quit ultimate frisbee. No one knows yet but me. I liked the sport at first. Frisbee felt familiar, like lacrosse at its very freest, until it felt familiar, like basketball at its most confining. I know what it feels like to be in the zone. It's pure and unforced. Then, there's the slog. Instead of feeling the wind through your ponytail, you have thoughts (one), doubts (two) and frustrations (three, you're out). Nothing is ever good enough. You can always run faster, train harder, be better. But I've found that sometimes I am good enough. I don't need to break myself down, build myself up, rinse and repeat. So then I quit. It's become one of my favorite parts of playing sports. Hopefully I never give it up.

Brooke Randel is a short story writer and copywriter living in Philadelphia, PA.