Friends have never been a thing I was good at. Not that I'm a total asshole or anything, I've just never been able to relate to most people enough to hang out with them or get to know them. Plus, I grew up in a house that preached you should never count on anybody to do anything for you ever, nor should you for any reason trust anybody for any reason ever.
That being said, I always did like playing sports, just not team sports. It's likely why I gravitated towards wrestling, tennis, track and baseball (the last of these is really just an individual sport disguised as a team sport). You didn't have to trust or count on people in those sports.
Team sports are great to watch, but for me, participating in them is horrible. Some of the reason is because I never really cared about winning. For every sporting event I participated in I had my own specific set of goals to accomplish that had nothing to do with the team. I measured success in a different way than wins or losses and I never kept a single medal or trophy I won. None of that stuff was ever important to me.
People tend to care too much about winning and in the process turn into assholes and when you get a group of people who really care way too much about winning together they tend to turn into even bigger assholes; especially if you're on their team and you care more about whether or not you can tackle the guard and not the ball carrier in the middle of an actual damn football game, because that dude is huge and you're pretty tiny compared to him, but man, it'd be cool to see if you could take that guy down. And you do. And it's glorious. Only problem is you ran right past the ball carrier to do that. You don't care, but the coach cares and your teammates care. Whoops! Sorry, guys. Doesn't matter though because "you'll never play another game again, Tyrone!" Not in anything meaningful, at least, and it's the 9th grade so really, coach, who's the bigger asshole here.
Then there's basketball. Hoo boy.
Like I said before, I've never been good at friends. I used to hang out with this kid when I was growing up because he lived close to me and he had a computer and I didn't. He hung out with me because we had cable television and he didn't. So he would come over and watch televison with me and I'd go over to his place and watch him play games on his computer—which was admittedly a weird thing to do and very much not part of the bargain I thought I was getting out of this friendship. That friendship lasted until we started high school and he made other, cooler friends than me who had more to offer than cable television. Whatever. I've always wanted to read books by myself more than I've wanted to spend time with people anyway. People are tiring. Friends are even more tiring.
Back to basketball. I played basketball constantly. By myself. In my busted-ass driveway. Which was actually an alley. Without a hoop. I asked for one, but no dice. I didn't even get a ball. My cousin gave me one of the 20 or so he had in his garage. Then again, I might have just taken it when he wasn't looking and he just never noticed. Anyway, because there was no hoop, which in retrospect would've been pretty easy to make, I just used the point where four shingles met as the basket. Which was really more of a target, as a basket implies that there's is volume for which to put something into.
I was really pretty good at that game.
One day I was asked to play basketball with some of the other kids at the park. Probably because one of their mom's felt sorry for me, which was silly, because my own basketball games were awesome. I'd replay entire Bulls-Piston games play-by-play (best I could remember) and pretend I was everyone from Michael Jordan to Isiah Thomas, sometimes even Bill Laimbeer, but rarely him. He's kind of a boring basketball dude to pretend to be when you're bouncing the ball off your roof and using shingles as your basket. He's likely pretty boring to pretend to be in virtually ever other scenario I can think of too. Not John Salley though. That guy's super fun to pretend to be.
Not fun: Going to the park with some guys from school in an awkward attempt to force friendships upon each other.
Begrudgingly I went with them. Now they all actually played basketball. As in organized, coached and in a league. That kind of basketball has so many rules and I never in my life had played organized basketball. Even watching games on television today I have no idea why most fouls are called. But you know who knows every foul that exists in basketball ever? One of those bratty kids I ended up playing basketball with that day. He kept calling fouls on me. Constantly. As in every play. I thought that was stupid. Even my stupid ass saw Cornbread, Earl and Me and knew nobody called fouls at the playground. Good movie, by the way. If you've never seen it, I'd say check it out. Anyway, I told the kid to stop calling fouls. I wasn't mad that he kept pointing out every infraction I made, but it was pretty annoying. Annoying enough that I made a calculated decision to drop him if he kept it up.
In fairness, I did tell him I was going to punch him in the mouth if he kept calling fouls. And he kept calling fouls. Under sheer obligation of a promise I made to myself, what emerged as my goal for that game, I jacked him in the mouth and he dropped and he cried and I was kicked out of the game by the other kids and never invited back to play again.
It was a shitty thing to do and I knew that. And that was the last time I played any team sports. I knew I couldn't get along with others in a cooperative environment. It was a short-coming of mine and that day it was fully realized. When a sport is just one person against one person or one person against a clock that makes sense to me as a participant. When it came to team games, I wanted to play my own games, in my own head, with my own made up teams and pretend I was whoever I wanted to be. I didn't want to trust anybody or depend on anybody. Except myself. That's kind of a sad thing. And that day I hit that kid was kind of a sad day too. I don't like violence and I didn't like the fact that I decided to hit the kid. It wasn't as though I lost my cool. Nope. Like I said, I wasn't even angry. Realizing that was unsettling and lead to my decision not to play team sports anymore. In a strange way, there were many winners that day, myself among them.
Please don't mistake me. I'm not happy that I hit that kid in the face. Okay, so I'm a little happy I did, and I betcha if you asked his friends they were pretty happy I did too.