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October 17, 2014
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My father tried to make a man out of me by buying me a football costume

Sportsman of the Year

For my seventh birthday my Father gave me a curious present - a football uniform. I was not a member of a football team, and had no intention of joining one. I laid the uniform out on the floor. A blue shirt, white pants, white socks, shoes with spikes, chunky white plastic pieces with straps and a big shiny head. I would need help getting into costume.

Strapping on the white plastic shoulders, I knew instinctively that this was ridiculous. Fighting to get the blue shirt over the plastic shoulders almost put me off sports entirely. Dad secured the helmet and I stood there for his approval, feeling unnaturally heavy.

“Go outside” he commanded. I sat on the steps in front of our home and stared at the clouds. After a while, a group of neighborhood boys, who had always enjoyed ridiculing me, walked by. When they saw me, they stopped and laughed. “Where’s the football game?” one of them joked. “This is a BASEBALL uniform” I barked. They fell into each other with laughter. “It’s a football uniform, you idiot!” “No it’s not!” I insisted. “It’s a BASEBALL uniform!” I yelled, my voice cracking. I stood up, spun my chunky, plastic self around and marched inside sobbing. I never wore the costume again. I never even saw it again.

A few years later I discovered tennis and learned that there really is an athlete inside.

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