By ANDY KRUTSINGER
Mt. Pleasant News
On Tuesday night after taking pictures at the Mt. Pleasant boys? tennis meet, I decided to head to the REC Center to get some shots of the most underrated athletes in the world; casual dodgeball players.
The REC was putting on a dodgeball tournament as part of their 20th anniversary celebration that has been taking place this week. When I arrived at the REC, I saw something that made me proud of my community.
I saw men, women, boys and girls all decked out in dodgeball gear, getting ready for the games, and I saw one tournament bracket. I knew then, that this tournament was about to be played the right way.
There were no separate brackets for the younger players, women or lesser athletes. It was every team gunning for one prize. Complete equality.
As I saw the overmatched teams giving it their all and even pulling a few upsets, I had flashbacks of my elementary school self taking on a challenge of my own.
When I was a kid, my best friends were all related to me. We had a big family, so there were plenty of cousins my age to hang out with on a day-to-day basis. The group was mostly boys, and most of the girls were older than us, so we were all at about the same level athletically.
Because of this fact, a good portion of group activities had something to do with sports.
Whether it was playing baseball in the tiny yard of my first house with dollar-store plastic bats and balls, or impersonating Dennis Rodman on my little basketball court on the front porch by throwing the basketball off of one each other and pretending to scream at the refs, athletics got us through many summer days.
I remember one day at my house, playing pig on an old basketball hoop that my parents had set up about eight-feet high in a tree.
We were having a great time, and I was probably winning, until my uncle Jamie (technically cousin, but we called all older adults that weren?t our parents or grandparents ?uncle? or ?aunt) came up to us, set his drink down on the porch and asked if he could play.
The rest of my uncles came over as well, seemingly to watch our game. Someone missed a shot, so we decided it was Jamie?s turn to set the shot.
He took the ball, threw it off the backboard and dunked it as hard as he could. Then, he turned around to us and said ?Now THAT?S how you play pig!?
As we stood silently, Jamie returned to the group of adults, laughing and high-fiving as they walked back into the house.
When I was younger, there was no such thing as letting the kids win. When we had our annual Thanksgiving football game, it was always children vs. adults, it was always tackle, everyone always gave it 100 percent, and up until we were in high school and their knees had worn out, they always won.
Now, we are all in our 20s, and they are all in their 40s. My guess is, if we got the teams back together this Thanksgiving, we would probably crush them. Maybe even by more than what they did to us. We?ll probably never know because the games came to a stop about the time we started winning.
I?m thankful that I was able to experience the agony of defeat so many times as a kid. I?m glad I had that time with my cousins, losing as a team and coming together to face an impossible challenge.
Failure is a great part of life to learn while you?re young and it doesn?t matter. You don?t want the first losing experience of your life to happen when you?re grown up. Because the first time you fail, you?re going to take it hard.
I?ve seen little kids cry after Little League games because they had the first heartbreaking loss of their baseball lives. I?ve also seen college students break down after a bad exam because it?s the first ?C? they?ve ever gotten.
The two occurrences have a lot in common. They both involve a lot of water works, they both involve lashing out at people who tell you it?s not a big deal and they both take the same time to get over.
But all things considered, I would rather talk down the kid than the adult every time.
These days, it seems like everyone is a ?winner.? You get a trophy for every place, everyone gets an ?A? and if all the other teams tie for first place, you get ?second,? not last.
Sure, at some ages everyone should get to win. I?m not necessarily saying they should keep score in tee-ball or play games without a mercy rule like they did when I was younger.
But everyone is going to lose eventually, and in most cases the older they are, the harder they fall.