The Night I Knew Sports Were Not for Me

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    *The following is a story of epic proportion. The quotation marks that are italicized are statements from people who were on hand to watch this catastrophe take place, and it’s what they remember from that night.*

    I guess it’s no secret at this juncture that I love sports. I think they’re great. They entertain us, and bring people together. With that being said, there are a number of reasons why I am now writing about sports instead of participating in them, and the following story is one of the reasons why.

    First off, there are a number of physical limitations that hinder me from being an athlete. I’m a generous 5’6 if I’m wearing the world’s longest baseball spikes. My last 40 yard dash time, was somewhere north of seven, and I am maybe 145 lbs with a shit pile of rocks stuffed into my pants. This may come as a shock, but my body frame is not what a lot coaches are looking for. I played football my 10th grade year of high school, and quit after one year because I convinced myself that it was safety hazard. All of those limitations didn’t stop me from playing basketball my senior year, and it was an interesting experience to say the least.

    I’m not going to mince words here, I was awful. Absolutely, positively atrocious. I was a point guard who had below average handles, a special talent for turning it over, and most of my defensive efforts (which were only in scrimmages) ended in play being stopped due to fans running onto the court after whatever type of dunk the dude threw down on me.

    So, needless to say, I wasn’t exactly in the rotation for meaningful playing time. In fact, people in the stands had a better chance at seeing the court than I did. Same goes for the water cooler I sat next to, and it probably turned the ball over less.

    Enter the Brian Scott Rippee fan club.

    You’re probably thinking something along the lines of “What? this jackass had a fan club? He’s lying.”

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    Well,  I’m not, if you use the term “fan club” loosely. My fan club consisted of my friends getting entertainment out of my athletic shortcomings, and using the student section as a tool to lobby for more playing time on my behalf. Man, I have great friends.

    Basically, this is how each home game went. We were pretty good that year, so the student section would cheer for the athletically gifted starters to kick the ever living shit out of the other team, and once we got a comfortable lead, (at least 40 before I even entertained the possibility of playing) then the real fun would set in. The student section, for whatever reason, would chant  “WE WANT RIPPEE” to persuade our coach to put me in the game.

    I’m still not sure what the exactly their infatuation was with watching me play. Maybe they wanted to see the 5’6 Steph Curry do his thing and drop trey bombs in the eyes of the worthless opponent, or maybe they wanted to see me airball a few, turn it over a bunch, and celebrate if by some miracle I got the orange pill to go through the cylinder. I’m leaning towards the latter. Nevertheless, one game their persistent chanting finally paid off.

    We would always chant for you to get in the game because we wanted to see you jack up a shot so we could erupt. Similar to a college game where the white guy at the end of the bench finally gets in.”

    First off, there isn’t a vertically challenged guard in the country that owned garbage time like I did. I mean I owned it. Think of LeBron throwing the chalk in the air before taking the court to drop 50 on your team, and that’s how opponents saw me.

    When my team was up 40 plus, and there was mathematically no way the other team could come back, it was my time to shine. You can call me The Closer if you’d like because the Rippee Show was coming in to kick ass and take names.

    Anyways, one game the athletically inclined members of the team did their job and were beating the other team senseless, and like clockwork, the chants began.

    “WE WANT RIPPEE.”

    “PUT HIM IN.”

    “LET THE LITTLE GUY BALL.”

    “HE’S THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE.”

    “THIS COUNTRY NEEDS MORE RIPPEE.”

    Ever seen a coach visibly upset at his own fans when he has a 30 point lead? Well, I did that night. Our coach hated that shit, and I can’t really say I blame him. He coaches the team to a sizable lead, but in the fans eyes, the main event had not even started yet. Go figure.

    Rippee, we didn’t want you in the game, we needed you in there. It was the best part about coming to the game.”

    So after what seemed like hours of relentless chanting, coach finally grabs me and goes “GO YOU’RE IN.”

    Here was my thought process as I went to check in:

    1.“Great, I’m not even in the damn game yet, and he’s already pissed at me.”

    2. *Checks scoreboard. Sees we are up 79-35*

    3.“Okay sweet, no matter how bad I shit the bed in this disgraceful display of athleticism, I still cannot possibly cause any harm to this team or lose them the game.”

    The buzzer sounds, and I’m in the game. The student section goes absolutely bananas. Seriously, this made Auburn’s kick-six a few years back look miniscule. People were losing their minds. Since I had such loyal fans, wasn’t it simply my fiduciary duty to them to score? These people came to see the show, and by damn I was going to give them one.

    So, I’m in the game, and in order not to bore you, I’m going to fast forward past a montage of turnovers and blocked shots to the last minute of the game.

    The crowd was getting restless. There was only a minute left, and another airball from my incompetent self could send these people home unhappy. That couldn’t happen. These fans deserve better. I am the chosen one.

    There is 15 seconds left and I’m standing in the corner. The point guard drives, and my defender leaves me (I mean who wouldn’t? I posed no threat to do anything productive). Next thing I know the ball is in my hand with eight seconds left and I am about to shoot it. Young Steph Curry cocks his gun and fires. The ball is in the air, and these are my thoughts:

    1. Oh shit, that may not hit anything.
    2. Oh shit, that may hit an opposing fan.
    3. Oh shit, that has a chance.
    4. Oh shit, that went in.

    By some planet-aligning miracle, the ball found its way into the basket in what would later be known as the shot heard round the world, because I promise you, mayhem ensued.

    Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen 200 people so overcome with emotion that they don’t know what to do with their hands? As the buzzer sounded the student section had a catastrophic meltdown. People were screaming and jumping up and down. Bottles were thrown, and there were rumors of tears shed. It was like the happiest moment in private school basketball history, but no one could tell you why.

    I then look to the other side, and I see the strangest sight of the night– the opposing fans were clapping.

    “You hit a three like right in front of the bench and our fans went nuts. It was crazy, and even away fans were like golf clapping and nodding their heads after you made it.”

    What the hell? Why are the opponents happy for me? Do they enjoy getting beat that badly? Do they have a gambling issue and bet against their team and I just somehow covered it? We’re up 50, there’s no way. What the hell are these people doing? Is this some kind of sick reverse psychology?

    I didn’t have long to think about it because next thing I know, the student section is storming the court. Yes, our student section stormed the court after a 40 point victory against an inferior opponent. But as strangely as things had gone that night, I can’t say I was surprised.

    “It was as if we had just won a state championship. It was one of those moments where you start going crazy and jumping around and forget what’s going on, ya know? The opposing fans smiled and clapped for you, because they were secretly rooting for you too.”

    Embarrassed beyond belief, I kick, squirm and demand to be put down. They eventually let me down and I run off into the locker room, thinking the night is over.

    “We celebrated like we had just won the Super Bowl. It was the greatest moment ever.”

    I shower, change, and leave the locker room. When I come out, I find that like half of the visiting stands is still in tact. At this point I’m baffled. What the hell is going on here? Why are these people so happy for me? Like Jesus people, cut this shit out. Be like any normal fan and just be pissed you lost.

    After overhearing  a couple  of “We’re so proud” and “That was so great to see” comments, I finally figure out what the hell was going on here.

    The opposing fans were not cheering me because they appreciated the effort–THEY THOUGHT I HAD SOME KIND OF DISEASE OR DISORDER– Yes, you heard that correctly, they did not think I was dealt a full deck. They legitimately thought that the three pointer was actually a miracle, as opposed to a little bit of a fluke.

    “I remember that some dad started booing you when you were at the free throw line and his wife told him not to boo you because you had something wrong with you.”

    Did I really look that un-athletic? Am I just extremely ugly?

    I mean seriously, can you imagine being so bad at what you do that people think that there is something physically wrong with you? I was so awful that the only logical deduction for the opposing fans was that surely this kid has overcome a lot get on the court, and there is no way on earth he’s just another player. No one is that bad.

    After our outbreak, the other fans got the impression that you were challenged in some form or another, and thats why we were so happy. They were clapping. It was hilarious.”

    I mean my god, talk about your athletic career hitting rock bottom. Do you know of a good way to explain to a group of strangers that, as far as you know, you’re somewhat normal and just not very athletic? Because I sure as hell don’t.

    You may think you’ve had some bad athletic experiences in your life, and now I hope you feel better about them, because I can promise you mine was worse. The next time you’re down on yourself and questioning your abilities, remember this story and I promise your performance will  be better than if you hadn’t. You’re welcome.

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