by Donn King
There is almost no difference between the feelings of a senior softball player and an athlete of any age or skill level, in any sport. When I began to play Creaker softball, after a layoff of 50 years, I was astonished by how similar it felt when I got a hit, made a good play, or an error, to how it felt when I was 12 or 13. Our feelings don’t age. The thrill of victory is just as thrilling, the agony of defeat just as agonizing, as it ever was.
Softball is a team sport, but the team is dependent on individual performances. Whatever a player does, on offense or defense, affects the team and the outcome of the game. It’s quite startling to find out, in my eighth decade, that my spirits can be raised so high by a good performance and brought so low by a poor one. Since the nature of athletic performance is inconsistency, everyone who plays athletics subjects himself or herself to these triumphs, frustrations and mood swings. This occurs at every level. Some days I think, huh, now I know how to play this game; next week I’m amazed by my own audacity to call myself a softball player.
However similar the feelings we have as adults and youths, here is the fundamental difference: as adults we can draw on experience and objectivity. When I was young, a defeat could really set me back, and a series of defeats be devastating. Likewise, a series of triumphs might inflate my self-esteem out of healthy proportion. As adults, seniors have seen triumph, defeat, humiliation, embarrassment, and adulation, many, many times. We have been there before. We are not brought down so low by defeat nor raised so high by success. Some days we do well, some days not so well. That’s the inconsistency of sports.
Here is a senior’s advice, and it’s applicable to all human endeavor: persevere, show up every day, never ever give up, and by all means go down with the ship. If you performed terribly today, let it go. It’s entirely likely that you will do something great, and your teammates will be toasting your health next week.