12 October 2009

My Olympic Dreams

So, if you have already heard about my Olympic scheme, I am sorry that you have to read it again. But, if I haven't told you, I think it would be cool to say that you are an Olympian. I can't claim to be as Olympic crazy as some people I know, but it would still be a cool accomplishment. (Although I am not sure that I would attend the opening ceremonies; those things are boring! Ok, I would walk in in my dorky white beret with a video camera and then I would sneak gracefully out a side entrance.) The only problem is that I am really not athletic enough to be an Olympian. Except, what if I could get a specialized skill set in an obscure sport that is not played well in America? That's right. What if I could get a scholarship to study in another country so that I could learn to play handball in order to be an Olympian?

Well, my road to the Olympics began, and probably ended, tonight.

I went to my first team handball practice, and from the start it was different than anything we Americans would expect from sports. For starters, the gym was reserved for kick-boxing before practice and then some ancient form of Samurai karate afterwards (I am attending that next week.), and we didn't even meander onto the floor until 5 minutes past our start time (gasp). After meeting the coach, who was French and couldn't pronounce Lindsay, getting a brief rundown of the rules, and meeting the other players--who were all from different countries including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Germany, France, a high-schooler from Denmark, and the list goes on--we were (including Lucas, my American comrade) all thrown onto the floor and told some strange instructions in broken English. Given the varieties of levels of English proficiency, let's just say that things were pretty unclear and that chaos reigned for the next 2 hours. We soon broke up into girls and boys and did drills that were unexplained mostly involving cutting, flipping the ball to someone else, and running around aimlessly. I am not sure that I really understand exactly how to play the game, but I had this strange dissonance between mind and body. Essentially, I was pretty sure that I could do what I was being asked to do physically, if someone could just explain to me exactly what that was.

I learned some more lessons in British/European politeness. The general rule is, "We aren't going to tell you that you are doing something wrong, because that would be rude. But we will be frustrated with you for doing it wrong." I think handball could be a quite interesting sport, but I am not sure if Oxford is the setting for me to learn it.

The real lesson (in all of my sporting endeavors thus far) is that here, they are not really concerned with mastery. It is, at least in the sporting world, much more acceptable to be average (or really bad at something) and to invest a moderate amount of time and effort into staying at that level. I suppose that there is a lesson to be learned there--one I think I read at some point, about being a Renaissance man (or woman) and being willing to dabble in many things and master few. And while that proverb is probably quite wise, I struggle to appreciate mediocrity, let alone celebrate it.

On that note, congratulations to the Chiefs on distinguishing themselves and resisting a merely mediocre season. The good news is that they would be quite welcome in the UK. In fact, a Brit would probably just shout, "Bad luck!" everytime they make a mistake. Let's be realistic everyone, luck has nothing to do with it.


  1. You, my dear, crack me up! I wish I could have heard how someone mispronounced Lindsay!

    Also, I'm enjoying how your spelling is becoming British-ified! (So many favourite things, including hummous!)

    Miss you!