A few days ago, I complained in Twitter that the entire gush about NBA makes me feel left behind. A friend, an avid basketball fan, replied to my tweet, “Maging fan ka na rin kasi! (So be a fan!)”

Ha! I am actually closer to becoming an action movie fan than becoming a sports fan.

Sports is of one of those realms that I do not really get. While I did play outdoor games as a kid, I was always the saling pusa — my playmates let me run along with them during patintero or ice-ice-water but I was not really a part of the game, I was just tagging along. I could not blame the other kids. I was a sure liability to any group I would be in and once I was It, which was most likely at the first few seconds of the game, there would no longer be excitement since I would be It until the bell rings. But I was happy even as a saling pusa. At least I could enjoy playing without feeling the pressure to win. Then, I went to high school where sport games such as basketball, volleyball, and badminton were a requirement in the P.E. curriculum. This time I could not just tag along. I really had to play.

Well, actually, I should have played. But I still did not. Well, properly, at least. In basketball, I just went where the ball was because I thought, What’s the point of playing basketball if I could not touch the ball even just once, right? So I kept trailing after the ball just as the other girls did, much to the dismay of our P.E. teacher. In volleyball, I ducked instead of hitting the ball. It hit me once square in the face that I could not feel my nose for the rest of the day. In badminton and table tennis, the racket always had a mind of its own. Sometimes it refuses to touch the ball. Sometimes it flies. In futsal, I just kept on kicking the ball every chance I get. I just thought, This is practice for self-defense!

Really, I was a comic sight in the sports field. Luckily for me, the last quarter of the school year was always dedicated to dance. Then I could save my face for though I was not really a talented dancer, at least I was not awkward in the dance floor as I was in the court.

I have no issue with my almost non-existent relationship with sports. Even as a kid I was already aware that when it comes to games, maybe except scrabble, I am the dorky type. Being butterfingered may be uncool but it is the way I am and I have learned to accept and love that. It is one of my quirks, like off-key singing. My problem is the way some people treat those who are like me.

They call dorky boys losers. They call dorky girls damsels in distress. They think that not having a sport is a disease that needs to be cured. They think disinterest in sports is merely artificial hipsterism.

But what they say and think is not right.

Awkward boys can be winners in a different sense and awkward girls do not need saving. They are not just body smart like some people are. They have other talents and they may excel in a completely different field. That is how nature works: every individual has his or her own strengths and weaknesses.

Having a sport is great but it is a choice. Yes, playing a sport helps a person develop certain skills, such as discipline, that may serve him or her throughout life. But there must be other ways for a person to develop the same skills. For example, discipline can be learned by studying or working hard to attain a certain goal. Therefore, playing a sport is not the only choice. A person should not be forced to play a sport just because everyone else does.

Not being interested in sports is not hypocritical. Maybe most people are into at least one type of sport but not all people do. Some would rather read a book or write one, make music, sketch or paint, or tinker in a lab. Choosing to do something else instead of catching the game on T.V. does not make one look down on sports. There really are people who are not just into what everyone is raving about. And come to think about it, they are actually being honest. Some people who do not really follow sports would pretend that they do just so they would not look uncool. I used to do that.

Remember the friend who told me to become a basketball fan just so I would not feel left behind? He was once a high school boyfriend. He used to play for our batch’s basketball team.

I recall once when we were still together, I stayed up late, trying to teach myself the basics of basketball because I thought it my duty as a girlfriend to, if it is not possible to share, at least understand his interests. He did not ask me to but I could feel he would love it if I were also into it.

Now, almost six years after, I have already given up. That is why I am still the butterfingered and sports lingo illiterate girl that I was. But I am not regretful. I chose to be myself and learned that people who truly love me will understand my every quirk.

It is funny that he asked me now to study the sport and catch up with the next season which was what I exactly did when we were silly teenagers. Sorry, dude, I really tried before but basketball is really beyond my comprehension.


Author: Aira Mallapre

Aira, a dreamer by day and crammer by night, has been singing out of tune since 1995.

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