Monday, March 20, 2023

Book Preview: If Kansas Fails


I heard, what was to me, a tragedy a couple months ago. This person was describing their stepson who loved basketball and the only thing he wanted to do was to play it. Sadly, he has what I have and, unlike me, has no eye-to-hand coordination. This person was frustrated and said he was constantly telling the kid to give it up and there was no chance he could ever play with anyone because it would be too shameful for him.

Let’s use another example. Every four years, the world turns its eyes on the Olympics (yes, I know it is summer/winter two years apart, but we will just be using the summer games). While the sports of swimming or badminton only get the spotlight every four years, for the athletes competing, it is the culmination of their life’s work. Think about it. For them, they have tried for years, and for most of them they only get one shot at it. If you don’t know, the Olympic team is determined by the trials. What that means is that for the foot races, the top three go to the Olympics and everyone else is going to be watching from home.

If you were one of those athletes competing for a shot on your country’s team, imagine the pressure. Your entire life has come down to that one run. If you run like the wind, you go to the biggest sporting event in the world; should you have any type of bobble, you have wasted years in training and also any chance you had at being on a Wheaties box.

It is sad when people come so close to their dreams, but fall an inch short. I can’t imagine what it is like to be that last person not to make the team. All the training, all the hours, all the sweat was for naught.

For those athletes that fall short, it must be devastating. They put their entire life into something, only to have it fall short. I’m sure you’re thinking I’m trying to get a job as one of those writer’s that do the human interest side of the Olympics, and maybe I should, but I do have a point I must cover before I go on that venture.

Anything I put my mind to is the only thing that matters, as the chapter with that title said. Even though something might last a month, or a year, it is as important as life itself. How then, as that kid that wants to play basketball, can one deny them of it? The step-dad mentioned that the kid knew everything about the history and all the great players and anything about the sport. If something means everything to a person, how can one deny them?

I will say I got lucky that I discovered this oddity that is my writing ability. It probably saved me, as racing was the only thing that mattered. Unlike that kid, I did have talent on what I wanted to do, but nevertheless I was not racing at a professional level. Thankfully no one ever denied me of what I wanted to do on the basis of talent.

I’m sure there are thousands of kids out there like the one whose story I heard. Whatever their Kansas may be, someone is telling them that it is hopeless, stupid, or unattainable. This is nothing short of a tragedy. Even if that kid was horrible at the sport, let him try. Don’t destroy the love of the game. I think the kid was 12, so don’t destroy the sport for him. Perhaps, he will become a ref or a coach of it. Whatever the case, I’m sure, for that one athlete who was one position short of making the Olympic team, they would much rather try and fail than to never have gotten the chance. Kansas may fail, but don’t be the one who’s to blame.

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