My (Former) Philosophy of Sports: "Pain = No Gain"

I don't love pain.

As a young teen, I played volleyball. It became obvious early that I was not destined for volleyball greatness. You see, I had decided that sacrificing my body was not a good idea. If the options were me hit the floor or the ball hit the floor, the answer was obvious: the ball. The ball wouldn't get hurt; I probably would. As a result, I stuck to hitting and blocking. My volleyball career ended early.

Next, I joined the softball team. My family had played softball often, and I enjoyed hitting and playing outfield. The first few practices were great. One day, our coach ran us through a sliding drill. As my teammates discussed their best sliding injuries, I noticed that softball also required sacrificing my body. That was the day I moved from softball player to team manager. Scorekeeping from the bench did not involve injuries.

We spent this Thanksgiving weekend with my in-laws and their friends. The large group activity yesterday was paintballing. I enjoy target shooting. If I had a bucket list, I think paintballing would have been on it. However, the day brought apprehension. I had not considered the pain involved in paintballing. Welts? Not my thing. If it's painful, it's not good, right?

With a mixture of nervousness and excitement, I added layer upon layer of clothes. Can you get welts through three pairs of pants? The answer is yes. I have a nice puffy, bruised welt on my inner thigh and a little one on my ankle. Yep, they stung. But the fun was worth the pain.

Now I understand why my teammates bragged about bruises and injuries. They are a kind of trophy for going all in. A softball player's decision to slide happens in an exciting moment. Getting shot with a paintball happens in an exciting moment. The pain is not the fun part, but the resulting wound is a reminder of the fun of the moment. Like a souvenir.

I may need to rethink my philosophy. Pain may lead to gain after all.

Oh, and you should try paintballing.