May 17, 2012|
I am 28 years old. 28 is a good age—you can date women from 24 to 34 but since we’re in Hong Kong you can somehow do 21 to 37 and it’s totally fine. When I wake up, I feel pretty good, unless I’m hungover, in which case I feel normal. I still look young and feel young, but also fake-important because people I know are getting married and buying houses. It’s like I know adults. Whoa.
Every week, I play basketball in Cyberport with some expats. The players’ average age is 25 to 35, the competition's intense, and over the years it has resulted three ankle sprains, two black eyes, and a broken nose. But it’s still really fun, so I come back each week and we continue our battles under the basket. I can see myself doing it for the next few years.
Yesterday I decided to do something different. Some colleagues invited me to join their soccer scrimmage (ok, I’ll call it football so I don’t get douchey Europeans hate-mailing me) as they prepare for a corporate tournament. The players’ average age: 35 to 45 years old. So I went and we played for a few hours. Young people, let me tell you: the future of sports is bleak.
First off, the game is slow. You know when you watch professional sports they say that an older player is “a half step slower” than he used to be? These guys are half a dozen steps slower than they used to be. We took a lot of breaks. We kept making the field smaller. And when anyone made a good play, everyone would stop, take a break and clap politely for a minute.
It was kind of annoying but also kind of quaint. During our fourth break I hoped that my childhood memory of orange slices and water would be supplanted by a soccer mom bearing Horlicks and homemade banana bread. (Actually we just had water.) I’d ask the old guys about glory days and they told me about the times they dribbled around three people and kicked the winning goal at the company tournament in the 90s. I took in these stories voraciously. The only thing missing was a rocking chair and someone with a beard endlessly repeating, “In my day…”
Less quaint, though, were the injuries. Wow, getting old sucks. In rapid succession, people went down with twisted knees, bad backs and a variety of other ailments that were Mother Nature’s way of telling you to go home and watch golf. If some guy goes down in basketball, everyone checks on him, then we spend a few minutes figuring out how to rebalance the teams. Here it wasn’t an if but a when: men went down in droves and the sport transformed from an exhibition of skill to a war of attrition.
But luckily I am the young one. So I stole the ball, dribbled around three geezers and went for the goal. Bam! The remaining defender sped at me, burying his cleat directly into my shin. You can’t do this. You’re OLD! I thought to myself as I fell, writhing in pain. I clutched my leg, which was swelling by the minute, and took my place amongst the injured.
There, I listened to them trade old stories again—but these were of the grotesque and arabesque. Torn ligaments, the pop of the ACL, broken bones and the unceremonious end to their sports careers. Normally I assume I’ll bounce back from all injuries in two to three days, but hearing these men speak I became worried about a fractured tibia, a forever frail leg dragging behind me as I limp towards my end of days.
By the way, I write this from the doctor’s as I stare at others and secretly hope they are worse off than I.