By: Dennis Bates
I gave up playing basketball on an organized team fairly young. For one thing, I grew rapidly to five feet eight inches and then stopped. For good I might add. That’s still my height today, and even in the Sixties that just wasn’t tall enough to play basketball competitively.
I also shot in streaks, sometimes hitting six or more shots in a row, only to miss the next twenty in a row. Not a good thing for the most part.
But one incident convinced me to try a different sport more than any other, and I can still remember it almost fifty years later. It’s strange the things that stick with you sometimes.
I took a tip off in a junior high school game and raced the length of the floor before laying the ball in perfectly to score. Swish, nothing but net.
The crowd went wild and I was so proud…until I realized that in all my excitement, I had streaked to the wrong end of the floor and made two points for the opposing team. Talk about looking for the trap door so I could disappear. Of course, there was none, and even though my teammates tried to console me, I never got over that wrong way basket.
The fact that I made a perfect layup didn’t matter since it was for the wrong team. What mattered more was the fact that I went the wrong direction. And even though I looked good making the basket, I still felt the embarrassment of that moment.
To some degree, that’s what happens to all of us when we lose focus. It should have occurred to me that something was wrong when no defender jumped in front of me to block my path. I should have stopped to gather my wits when the floor opened up so clearly. But all I could think about was scoring and looking good personally. I was just a kid. Looking good then was important.
What’s the excuse we use now that we’re not kids anymore? Why is looking good so important even if it means going the wrong direction to look that way?
How much time do you have? The list is no doubt endless, but to some degree it comes back to the same thing. We lose focus and are easily misdirected. We forget that to be first we must be last, or we just don’t care about that principle anymore.
It’s a shame really because there is no sound any more satisfying to a basketball player than the sound of the ball cleanly ripping through the bottom of the net. However, as sweet as that swishing sound is, the results are still less than satisfying if it’s the wrong net.
Life is the same way. You have to keep your eye on the prize so you don’t get misdirected.