What activity, task, or game most brings out your competitive streak?
There are three games I never enjoyed losing; basketball, chess, and Risk. I play none of them anymore.
Chess really takes an emotional and mental toll on me. I’m exhausted after playing, although I don’t play well enough to be called good.
Several years ago my wife and I were invited to friends’ home for an evening. I noticed he had a very expensive chess set.
“Do you play chess?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “Do you?”
“Yes,” I said and we sat down to play.
In five moves I knew he was much better.
Five moves later my friend said, “I thought you said you could play chess.”
The game of Risk is for world domination; need I say more. Everyone I know who strives for world dominations dies from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a bunker in Berlin or assassinated by his friends, political opponents or some nut job. Losing is not an option.
Competitive basketball ended for me decades ago. The best times I ever had playing basketball was not official games, but in the driveway with my son.
There was a time when he was fourteen. He was not enjoying the competition. He was losing all the time – not even close. I thought of allowing one game come down to the last basket. My plan was to stop his dribble far from the basket, leave him with an impossible shot, and block it. He managed to hurl an incredibly awkward shot toward the basket. I was unable to block it. The ball went through the hoop. He won. It was the first time he beat me. He was in my face, jumping around, and taunting me like Clay against Liston.
For a while I never allowed him to come close, but the day finally came when he was beating me with ease. At first it was because he was improving and eventually he knew that Dad was slowing down.
Through the years we’ve had scrapes, bruises, blood, sprains, torn toe nails, broken bones, limps, crutches, band aids, casts, and trips to the emergency room. All victories were sweet and the loses were never bitter.
I’ve come to appreciate something from those driveway games. Victories are sweeter and loses not bitter if you respect your opponent.
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