My Sport Psychosis

March 5, 2013 1:22 pm

badminton sportHaving spent several years in the same city on board the studying merry-go-round, my mind began to drift. I found myself in a search for inspiration, for a purpose in order to lull me out of a placidity that such routine had imbued upon my senses. Because days were passing quickly; rainy dark nights drew in with such relentless movement that I had fallen into a hazy slumber, apparently content to please myself with the easy conveniences of brightly lit screens and instant entertainment. With superfluous amounts of time available, like the many restless minds before me I fell, with reckless abandon, into the alluring and charming arms of addiction.

But this is not an addiction that can be located at the bottom of a bottle or on the cruelly disfigured remains of a DVD case. It is with a racquet, on a sports court, that my fix is found. It began with an inquisitive, apparently harmless, trip to Sports Direct. Two friends wishing to take up badminton as a new hobby, a sport that neither had played for years but which both were eager to try. It hit a spot. Time passed, and initial sporadic games evolved into routine; a game a week where our troubles were left in our kit bags; this was our arena where a primitive battle could commence. Whilst labelling us gladiators might seem strong, certain similarities were hard to refute. With term ending, the badminton season was over, yet with summer’s impending arrival, something just as tempting was to take its place. Tennis’s seasonal siren call sounded. It’s plush asphalt surface and bright bouncy balls was a short skirt and high heels to this impressionable narrator. When the sun was out, and a willing competitor was available, I would be out on any country village court that I could find in order to dance with this seductive vixen. My dance moves weren’t great, but that did not deter me from returning to the dance floor.

Thus far my addiction had flown quite serenely under the radar. Nobody had spoken to me about it- there had been nothing remotely hinting at an intervention- and whilst I often received judgemental glances during my weekly trip to Sports Direct in order to purchase new equipment, it was nothing that I could not handle. Besides, if they didn’t sell it to me, someone else would. I digress. I really perceived myself to be no more than a dabbler. Sure I played often, but no more than any other active male of my age. There was nothing out of the ordinary going on here.
Up to this point I had engaged in just Badminton and Tennis, but there is perhaps truth in that age-old adage involving a slope and its slippery nature. For it was these pursuits that, in retrospect, opened the door to what now so occupies my mind. Squash. From the first time I played just a few weeks ago, I knew things were to change. There was something so primitive and natural about the smashing of a small ball against a wall. Yet it required a strategy: a mental and physical test. And it came with a feeling of ecstasy when a sure connection rendered your opponent absolutely lost. When I had nothing to do, it was impossible for my mind to evade envisions of myself clad in sportswear, stepping out on a court with my weapon in tow. It provoked an appetite as insatiable as anything that I had experienced before. Whereas before I had always maintained that if my habits became a problem, I could always stop, there was no use in spieling out that line now. I was hooked.

tennis sportTerm began, and I sat down in a relatively care free mood in the first lecture. Suddenly feelings of anxiety and restlessness began to surface. Oh I was agitated alright. I looked down at my hand. There was an odd object situated between my fingers. A tiny racquet? What the hell was this? It didn’t look like the racquets that I had held with such delight upon the courts of the sports centres that had begun to so dominate my conscious. The taught, strong strings that had appeared to me as the perfect simplicity of engineering had been replaced with a small, seemingly weak piece of plastic. Well what use would this be to me as a blistering squash ball or hurtling shuttlecock seared toward me calling my sporting prowess into question. This spindly little thing would offer no goddam resistance at all. In fact, I felt positive that with this in my hand, I would find it hard to send anything back to my opponent other than a hopeless look of deflation. No, this would simply not do. I glanced to my right. What was this girl wearing? Those Ugg boots would surely not provide her with the grip needed for quick movement. And her feet would be incredibly hot after a mere few minutes of play. What the hell was that around her neck? A scarf? The amount of sweat that would produce would be impossible to negotiate. A man similarly inappropriately dressed (in a suit!) asked if there were any questions. F*ck yes, I had several. How would we play with all these tables and chairs in the way? Why were there so many competitors in the same room? And why, oh why, was my racquet so small? Of course, my addiction was rearing its ugly head; a sports psychosis had enveloped me. I took my headband off and put it into my rucksack.

This is my uneasy state. I spend my days thinking about when I might get the chance to pick up my racquet again, and who might be persuaded to join me. Denying my dependency would be fallacy. And I am left with the question that has doubtlessly troubled greater minds than mine. How can something that provides me with so much joy be truly harmful to my soul? I am Duncan, the racquet-fuelled man.

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