Playing like a Kid

I limped my way into the house about 9:15 pm, dragging my left leg along the ground like some kind of Quasimodo. I dropped my basketball shoes into the giant, overflowing pile of footwear by the door and took off my coat.

“Short night” I grumbled to my family as they looked up, surprised to see me home earlier than usual.

I play basketball on most Monday nights with a bunch of other older guys ranging in age from late 30’s to mid 50’s. That along with working out three or four times a week keeps me in not great, but pretty good shape. I play because I love the game. I play because I love the competition. I feel like a teenager when I’m out there and it’s so much more fun than tedious time spent lifting weights or doing endless amounts of aerobic activity. Plus I want my kids to see that even at forty-seven years old I can still go out and run around and play like a kid. They’ll remember that some day when they reach my age and they’re questioning whether to put on their athletic shoes and tie up the laces.

As a group us old guys play hard but we are careful to avoid injuries. None of us need that at our ages. Recovery time is a lot slower now than it was when we were younger.

Occasionally it happens though.

I blew out my left calf muscle this past Monday night, about ten minutes into our first game, while stealing a pass and breaking down the court to score a basket. As I accelerated I felt a sharp pain, a “pop” if you will, and knew it wasn’t good.

Recounting the story to my family when I got home, my daughter asked “so you scored though right?”

“Yeah I scored” I answered.

“That’s what’s most important” she said with a grin on her face.

“I guess so” I said as I frantically tried to secure a bag of ice my wife had retrieved for me around my calf muscle using an old t-shirt.

It hurt like hell. It was rapidly tightening up like a rubber band being turned on a toy propeller car. It swelled up and for the first time in my life, at least on my left leg, I had what I would consider a normally sized calf muscle and not the usual matchsticks that hold me up.

I finally got the ice secured with an elastic bandage rather than the t-shirt.

I drank a big glass of water, took a few ibuprofen and felt a little nauseous.

I tried to pretend that I didn’t feel like I was going into shock.

I Googled Aaron Rodgers calf injury because if you aren’t aware the famed quarterback for the Green Bay Packers was dealing with a similar injury during the last several games of his season. I thought about how people crack jokes about him and call him things like “the golden boy” but that he must be some kind of a serious bad ass to have played several PROFESSIONAL NFL FOOTBALL GAMES with what I can only imagine was a similarly painful left leg.

The articles I read said his recovery was expected to take 4-6 weeks.

What? 4-6 weeks? I don’t have 4-6 weeks!

Oh well, it is what it is. And hey, if anyone asks I can boast that I have the same injury as Aaron Rodgers, just us two pretty boys sitting around with torn calf muscles. Pretty good company I suppose.

When I get the occasional injury like this, playing a game that I probably should have stopped participating in years ago, I always contemplate “retiring.”

“Retiring” from playing like a kid.

In fact, I pretty much consider it every Tuesday morning as I haul myself out of bed, creaking and in pain from the previous night’s exertions. It usually goes something like this:

On one shoulder, a yogi, dressed in spandex and doing a Downward Dog while gently advising me: “Steve, maybe you’re too old to be playing basketball. Perhaps some gentle stretching would be better for you.”

On the other shoulder, my late grandfather, who spent his career as a teacher and football coach at a private boarding school yelling his now infamous quote: “look down between your legs and see if you’re a man!” (You can read more about him here)

But I just can’t seem to retire yet. I still want to play like a kid.

It’s kind of like that morning when you wake up with a really bad hangover and you tell yourself “ugh… I’m never drinking again.”

Never seems to work out like you planned.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Playing like a Kid

  1. I suggest an hour and a half long massage once a month, seriously you deserve it…and it will fix up everything you bugger up acting like a kid, it’s nearly magic… 🙂

  2. What? None of you had a cooler with ice pack ready? No instant ice package? Rapid icing makes a difference. You guys will learn. (any pop or snap is not a happy sound)
    Never give in to a moment of weakness! You can play forever…just slower?
    (Swimming is good conditioning. How about one of those “sleeve” type /wraps as a little support?)
    You scored. All that counts.
    Hope it heals up ASAP

  3. Hope your calf feels better / staying active is important and basketball will sure do it. Glad you scored, it makes it worth it.

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