I was always B Team. And pardon the cliché, but I was most always picked last.
You can't blame them—those fast and furious all-star athletes—and I'll tell you why.
I had the ball once. And I don't mean, one time I had the ball. I mean, for the first time I had the ball in my hands. I don't know what idiot gave it to me, but I ran with it. My body felt weightless as I glided toward the basket and sloppily tossed the ball its way. Score! I—the crappy B Team player no one wanted—scored! Ready to throw my arms in the air, I could hardly wait for the roar of applause and hoorahs to come.
I pivoted around and in a gasp the room fell silent. My teammates were still on the other side of the court. Why had no one followed me? Why are they all just standing there glaring? My excitement collapsed, a few giggled and a couple others kicked at the floor in sympathy.
Figures. The first time I score and it's for the other team.
I tried it all. Soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball, even football, and I disappointed through and through, from court to field to diamond. I gave up before I turned 14. And then—as the story goes for most of us B Team folk—I discovered music, good music that is. As adolescents, we all played together (kinda) but high school split us into different camps. You know the drill.
Playing sports embarrassed me. Not because it wasn't "cool." But because I had no confidence (thus no skills) and dreaded people (crowds) watching me, counting on me, praying that I don't fuck this one up. For me, joining high school sports teams—teams that kids, coaches, and parents took oh so seriously—was out, absolutely out of the question.
Music made me happy. It didn't demand much from me. I didn't have to compete for it. Yet it gave me a thrill that's not unlike the rush athletes get from a good game. And an identity that teenagers, admit it or not, so desperately pine for. Strip away the crap—the Nike clothes, the Adidas sandals, the Sub Pop T-shirts, the purple hair dye, and the shitty attitudes—and we're not all that different. We all want to feel good, we all want to get high; we just have different measures for getting there.Just as football defined the quarterback's high school life, music defined mine. Just as young star players felt at home on varsity teams, I felt at home with my favorite albums. We naturally gravitate toward the areas that give us confidence. And for me, that area was made of Teen Age Riots, Waves of Mutilation and Mountain Songs. It was made of ragged guitar riffs, nonsensical lyrics, concert Ts and all-night mix tape sessions. With Thurston, Francis, Perry, and a pair of headphones, I felt at home.
I didn't attend many school games. It was a world I didn't much care for, and a world that didn't much care for me. But that never meant I didn't get it. And that didn't mean I disrespected it. Sports were their passion just as music was (is) mine. It all makes sense and, pardon the cliché again, but the world needs diversity. Sure some of us are lame-o fakes. But lots of us are truly passionate. And it's not what we're passionate about that matters; it's that we are genuine with our passions.'Cause we find ourselves through our passions. When we play passionately, when we experience passionately, we discover and we learn and we grow. Our passions move beyond an image or an identity, they become something real, something that melts into our very existence.
Even if that leaves the star athlete with no rhythm, and me standing on the black gymnasium line, desperate not to make eye contact, praying they call my name next.