Though I wasn’t much of basketball player in middle school, I tried out for the seventh-and-eighth grade team and made it. Mostly, I was just a benchwarmer – one of those players who would sit and nervously await a call from the coach to go in the game. But I would go in only when there was no possible way for the team to win or lose. The game, in other words, would never hinge on my play.
I remember the first time the coach called my name. Our opponents that day were as tall as redwoods, and they were beating us unmercifully. Down thirty points, with a minute left on the clock, our team was headed for a certain loss, and I knew that this was the perfect time to put “Hill” in the game. My stomach was tied in knots when I heard the call.
I ran out on the court to replace one of my tired teammates who had played most of the game. And since I’d not yet played that day, I was in good shape. It didn’t take long for me to start feeling pretty good about being in the game. My nerves settled down, and I even started to feel like time was passing too quickly; I wanted things to slow down a bit so that I’d have a chance to enjoy playing. But that was before I’d handled the ball.
A teammate finally passed me the ball, and I knew it was then up to me to either shoot it or pass it on. But the player guarding me was all in my face, his arms flying in every direction. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was holding on to a “hot potato” with no good option to get rid of it.
The only person I saw in the open was a referee. And that’s when I did the unthinkable. You guessed it: I threw the damned ball to the man in the striped shirt, the referee. And at that point, everything in life seemed to come to a screeching halt. The game seemed to stop, with me there on center stage.
The ball, after hitting the referee’s chest, fell to the floor bouncing. There was no whistle blown since the rules of play didn’t specifically forbid such a pass, and so the ball was still in play. But no one seemed to realize that, and for a moment, the players just stood there waiting for a ruling.
I’m sure that we all had good laugh after the game, but the sting of embarrassment held on for a while. I’m probably the only one among my old teammates who would remember that day. I view it as a “life-event” – just one of those many small experiences that helps to shape perspective and a healthy sense of humor.
Day 9 Guide
It’s good to find humor in your life. Look back with a lighthearted spirit and disrobe embarrassment with a good laugh.
© 2005, Levi Hill