Out Of Control, Or Out Of Excuses

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May 24, 2012 by David Gillaspie

Sports fans around the world know the difference. Do you?

A local businessman explained ‘trying’ and ‘doing.’

“I told my employee to try and move their chair across the room. They stood up, grabbed their chair, and I stopped them. You’re moving the chair, not trying to move the chair. Now try again.”

His point, or what I’m guessing was his point, was be a do-er, not a try-er.

It’s a tough experiment to grasp if you’re the one trying and doing and your name is not David Copperfield. Fortunately, sports provides a solution.

Let’s say you play basketball and you’re trying to get better. What do you do instead of holding a ball in front of your face and shoot it through a hoop?

The idea is to train hard enough so the game becomes easier. You get stronger, bigger, and faster, as well as holding a ball in front of your face and pushing it in an arc toward a basket.

  • Stronger

A gym workout for basketballers used to be frowned upon, as if a decent physique is bad for any sport. Look in the archives of basketball images and you’ll see more thin pasty players than you ever wanted to imagine. They come from the era of Chuck Taylors and ten inch verticals.

None of them were nicknamed Skywalker.

Video is more telling. Ball handlers dribble about five steps with their head down, then look to pass. It’s as fluid as a landslide.

Back in the day before good health information, when smoking was encouraged and a sore throat meant switching to Kools or Salems for relief, it was common knowledge that large people were a danger to themselves. Exertion meant an early death, as if the big fellas had a chicken-sized heart in their chest that would explode if pushed.

If you were six feet five inches tall would you listen to a doctor who recommends bed-rest for life?

Even though the times changed, some attitudes remain today. Before the NBA draft that saw Greg Oden go one and Kevin Durant two, the news came out that Durant couldn’t bench press the pro minimum of 185 lbs. Fail?

We know how that turned out.

  • Bigger

This one is built into the genetic framework. There might be seven footers with parents stretching to reach 5′ 5″, but the general belief is size is inherited. The difference is thickness.

If you move from one seat to the next, from a work desk to a bus bench to an easy chair in front of a television, the only thing getting thick is your waistline. If you hit the weights you’ll grow bigger arms, shoulders, chest, back, and legs.

Tattoo artists encourage their clients to grow so they’ll have more real estate to ink. You can only do so much on a stick. No one wants to see a set of praying hands wrapped around a wispy upper arm. Even Albrecht Dürer says pump it up.

  • Faster

Speed kills. It’s that simple. No matter the sport, speed is lethal. Ask any crackhead about speed and watch them light up. Except their speed is different; they’re speeding to an early death, while athletes speed ahead of their opponents.

Watch the NBA finals for speed. D Wade and The King are all about getting to their spot first. A well designed fast break works to burn opponents down the court for uncontested lay-ups. What’s an easier score, a two foot shot standing alone, or a two foot shot with a giant arm about to crash into your face?

You might make them both, but one will draw blood and leave a mark. Be faster to avoid the Tyler Hansbrough chopper.

Most gym-rat ballers would be out of control if they attempted to play at an NBA tempo. While this doesn’t excuse a fat man parked at his own three point line, it does explain the difference between out of control and out of excuses.

A gifted athlete like LeBron James doesn’t look for any excuses why he doesn’t have a championship. All the experts penciled him in for title runs that began in Cleveland. The Cuyahoga River will catch fire again before that happens.

Now it’s Miami’s turn to marvel at his talent. After last year’s whiff, King James is settling in for a drive to the top. He will play under control because he’s a great athlete. Is it enough, or will he cross the line and frighten his opponents into jumping aside and covering up?

The countdown is on and the clock is ticking. It’s time to celebrate basketball with the sort of fouls that say, “Don’t bring the weak cheese in the middle, bro, or you’re going down.”

Winners do what losers won’t do. They take the grief, the suspensions, and the fines, but they don’t make excuses.


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