I've got a deeply hidden competitive streak that I'm not very proud of.
Nobody likes losing, but I really hate losing. With a capital HATE. And it doesn't have to be anything important either. Playing ping-pong or pool or darts against a friend. I want to win...badly. I'm a gracious loser, and I don't have a lot of skill at any of those things. But I want to win...badly.
Back when I played a lot of golf, I would agonize for hours after a missed putt on the 18th hole that let a buddy of mine beat me in a round of golf. I had friends who could play the game and be happy with one great shot or one great round, but I usually was disappointed if I didn't come in with the low round of the group. I was disappointed a lot back in those days.
Back when I was in college a bunch of friends would play pick-up basketball games nearly every day. I hadn't played much basketball at home or at school before college, but I picked up the game pretty quickly. I couldn't jump for shit, and I was usually the slowest guy on the court. But I had good hand-eye coordination which meant I could handle the ball and shoot fairly well.
One of my friends had been playing ball his whole life. He played on various teams through junior high and high school. He was no star, but he could play. And whenever we got together, he always seemed to wind up on the other team. And when it came to matching up, he started nearly every game by guarding me. He was smaller than me, but he was strong and quick. I had a helluva time guarding him, and we battled. More than once, one of us wound up on the gym floor after a hard non-called foul or a shove to the lower back while trying to rebound. And afterward, win or lose, I was always exhausted.
Pretty much the only fights I ever got into in my life happened on the basketball court. And pretty much the only real injuries I've had occurred there as well. I had my shoulder dislocated badly, my ankles are shot from countless sprains. And one time I caught an elbow above my left eye that split open my brow and required a bunch of stitches. An elbow that was thrown with intention, by the way. Not by this particular friend. Well, not that time at least.
Frustrated one day, I asked him why he usually matched up against me during these games, and he laughed. He said it was because he knew that I was the only one on the court who wanted to win as badly as he did. And why bother playing if you weren't playing against someone who wanted to win as much as you? I didn't realize until then that sometimes I let my hidden competitive streak show as often as I did.
I don't play a lot of sports nowadays, and this post isn't really about golf or basketball.
It's just something that's been on my mind today for a totally different reason.
Man, I hate losing.