Didn't make the cut?
The time of year is upon us when high school basketball gyms across the land are buzzing with the electricity of a new basketball season.
It's also a time of year for youth near and far to rethink their place in the universe, to rethink their path in life, because they got cut from their school's basketball team.
Even the term itself suggests some kind of vicious act. Cut. You got "cut." He was "cut." She's gonna get "cut." He should have been "cut." The "cut" list is posted in the gym. It sounds like an execution list.
"Got the axe" is another feel-good way to describe your shortcomings as an athlete, as if to say, "we had to axe off the inferior elements of the group, and that inferiority is you."
Whether it's the varsity, junior varsity or freshman team, young men and women across the area wonder: What now?
For those of you who didn't make it this year or even those who didn't "make it" in a year gone by, let me offer you the perspective of a 24-year-old high school hoops reject: It doesn't matter.
Except for that miniscule faction of American society that makes a living playing professional sports, eventually everyone gets cut. Sooner or later everyone ends up on the cut list.
Sure, some idiots will tell you that they "quit" the team. Do you know what I call those guys?
Saying they quit is like a death-row inmate committing suicide before the execution.
They knew what was coming, but simply chose to carry out the inevitable on their own terms.
The 12 guys who made my high school basketball squad are no further along in life than I am.
Eventually we all end up in the same boat. And I love being in the same boat as some ex-cool-ass high school hooper who still thinks people look up to him like when he was in high school. This loser still thinks those 1,200 points he scored in high school impresses people.
Guess what? High school basketball stats aren't going to help you on a job interview.
You see this guy at the bar and he's whipping out stories about how he played against Stephon Marbury in high school. Oh yeah? Now you're watching him on TV just like me. Oh, you're getting fatter and losing your hair? Me too! Can't find a job? Me neither!
When I got cut from the JV hoops team in high school, I caught hell from one kid in particular who did make the team and who from that point to the end of the year insisted on calling me "Snip"-durski instead of Bandurski. Pretty funny guy. That jerk took great pleasure in his quick wit.
Do you know where he is today? Under house arrest, a father of two - but he has one hell of a jump shot!
Life is full of jerks, but none worse than those who enjoy a personal victory juxtaposed against the failures of others.
Remember what Blue Öyster Cult said: "Don't fear the reaper."
Don't look at getting cut as a life-altering tragedy. Look at it as something that happened for a reason.
The Japanese symbol for crisis and opportunity is the same, for from the "cut" new life is born. Learn how to play an instrument. Learn a foreign language. Start writing something. Affleck and Damon don't end up with hot chicks because they have a decent jump shot. It's because they got cut and decided to do something creative with their lives. They decided to see the situation as an opportunity.
Embrace the cut - be like Damon. Not necessarily like Affleck, because I think he's in rehab.
Jeff Zurcher and sportspeak is on vacation this week.
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