I don’t want to hear about any organized sports. Straight pick-up games at the YMCA, playground or church that mean pretty much nothing in the grand spectrum of sports.
Here’s mine: I was traveling in Asia and my roommate from the dorms came to Hong Kong to see his parents. I called him to meet for lunch or something and he told me to meet him at the Mei Foo station—he was going to be playing football (soccer for you ‘Merican types) with some friends.
I assumed I was going to watch a couple of games and then hang out with the guys. Cause I don’t play football, never have really, other than a couple of P.E. games in the 7th grade, and my friend knows that basketball is my real love.
I get there and am informed that I am expected to play. They stick me in goal and my ineptitude there is compounded by the inability of our team to advance the ball past midfield; we’re horrible and I’m being peppered with shots. The games go to 1-0 and we lose 3 straight, two of them on soft goals that I’ve given up.
Finally, they decide to eliminate their biggest weakness and I’m put into the field. I quickly realize that I have almost no idea of what to do. And after seeing my exploits in goal, everybody else knows the American is worthless as well. Mind you, I’m a pretty good all-around athlete and I have a decent level of skill in most American sports, so athletic incompetence of this magnitude is new to me. How exactly do you defend somebody? You got me. Dribbling? Please. Mostly I run around like a headless chicken, hoping my hustle will compensate for my complete lack of skill.
I’m out on the left wing when the magic begins to happen. They loft a long pass to me and I sprint to get to it, but it looks like the defender is going to head it away. Somehow, he manages to miss it by inches.
**Oh shit! ** Now I’ve got a ball flying toward me and no clue of what to do with it. Time slows down to a crawl. The ball’s at eye level. I come up with the brilliant plan to head the ball down onto my foot. Is this a common move? Is it safe? Do I have any chance of pulling it off? I’m baffled.
I imagine now that if I had 20 more chances to accomplish this move, I’d pull it off maybe once or twice. But now, somehow, by the grace of God, the ball is on my foot and under control. I look up and we’ve got a two-on-one, the lone defender between us. Knowing that dribbling is not a good idea, I quickly loft a pass over to my sprinting teammate. Miracles abound! The ball flies perfectly over the defender’s head and onto my teammate’s foot. It’s got to be destiny. I know we’re going to score now. With nobody to beat but the goalie, my teammate responds! It’s the only goal our team will score all day. Actually, it’s the only real scoring opportunity we get all day and the big dopey uncoordinated American is responsible.
I get to the sideline and my buddy asks incredulously, “Was that on purpose?” I’ll take the memory to my grave.
Share your moments of supreme athletic achievement that brought fleeting moments of glory to you. Especially if you’re the only person in the world who remembers the story…