I was for the most part a pretty stellar athlete when I was a kid all the way up until about halfway through college when I discovered that I liked booze and women a lot more than I liked exercising 4 hours a day just to for the most part sit on the bench during every game we played on my college team. Unless you are the Kobe or LeBron of soccer, this happens to all college freshman because it makes sense that the older players are going to be better.
However, this memory of mine comes from a much earlier time of life than college. It comes from when I was still in elementary school. I believe I was in 6th grade or so and it was during the early stages of my basketball "career."
While I wasn't anywhere near as good at basketball as I was at soccer, I was still considered one of the best players on the team in most leagues I was in. This would remain true until I was about halfway through high school and by the coaches' advisement I was told that I should focus on fewer sports and just be really good at those instead of trying to be great at all of them. I was dominant at soccer and was encouraged by the coaches, who all wanted me on their teams but I admire how they were more interested in what was in my own best interests, to leave football and basketball to focus on soccer.
Years before that, when I was still finding my legs and determining which sport was going to be "mine" I was involved in all of them (except baseball, I sucked at that and gave up pretty early.) When I was involved in the YMCA teams as a youth, a lot of my school-mates were also on the teams. The "Y" was located next door to the library, so it was very common for my parents to drop all the kids off and we would get our homework done and then rush over to the Y to play whatever sport we wanted. It was a really great community in that regard and it also gave my parents some time without us little jerks bothering them at home.
Seriously, if you are not currently supporting the YMCA you should be. It is absolutely fantastic at developing skills in kids.
Anyway, in one of these seasons I was on one team, and my sister who would eventually end up going pro later in life was on one of the other ones in the same league. It was not normal to allow girls into the boys league but my sister was at least as good at basketball as I was at soccer.
In one game, I had to play against the team that featured my sister and to say that it was competitive would be an understatement. She is two years old than me and the biological difference between males and females aren't so evident in most 5th grade boys and girls - not at least towards sports. However, my sister was phenomenal at basketball and I was just "good." She wasn't just scoring on me, which of course was really embarrassing, but she was scoring on all of my teammates as well.
This got me rattled, and my offense suffered as a consequence. I think it was intentional on the part of the coaches that we were NOT guarding one another and I am thankful for that. However, if you know anything about basketball you are aware that everyone guards everyone at one point or another, especially during breakaways. During one attempt of my own at a layup against my sister, I shot the ball up and nailed the underside of the rim. This is a stupid move but I remember some of the parents in the crowd (not many people actually watched these things) laughing at this.
There was a lot more domination on the part of my sister during that game as well. I don't mind being bested by a girl, especially at that age when said girl is 2 years older than me but being bested by your sister in public was pretty traumatizing for me and I think it would be for other people as well.
Being bested by a female that ends up playing basketball professionally is nothing to be ashamed of. She was extremely good and I would have done the same thing to her on the soccer field but it wasn't the loss that sticks in my mind so much as my extremely childish reaction.
Not only did I cry in front of all those people, but i went on a fit at the end of the game and started throwing folding chairs around on the sidelines. Looking back I really regret this and it must have been terribly embarrassing for my parents as well.
It took me a little while to get over that shame, but this would not be the last time that I would allow my emotions to get the best of me while competing at a youth level. There are plenty more of those competitive outbursts and writing about them is actually fun for me (as well as a bit therapeutic). I hope they are as entertaining to read as it is to write them.