Once upon a time in my youth, I was actually in pretty good shape. I played just about every sport with varying degrees of competency. I was a pretty good tennis player and volleyball player, and played softball, basketball etc with relish. I was also pretty good at other things not necessarily ‘sports’ like shooting and bowling. Note that I said was.
Over the years my ‘crash into the wall’ mentality has caught up with me. As of right now, I have broken a foot 3 times, had 4 knee surgeries, have broken every finger at least once, a broken leg, dislocated shoulder, tennis elbow and rotator cuff damage. I have also put on about 80 more pounds than I was sporting in my lower-twenties. Slowly as I got older most of the sports vanished from my life. Volleyball ended when I was about 25 or so, as did tennis. Not enough friends still did it and by that time my knees were already 2 surgeries down. My pick-up basketball games also stopped around then when my already challenged vertical leap became almost non existent.
However, I could still shoot and bowl pretty well. My best days were probably also in my early twenties, sporting a 190 average for a few years. I have been on many leagues since then, some competitive and some just for fun, but always managed to remain in the upper 170’s to mid 180’s for a long time. Then came the 2017-2018 season. To start the year, in early October I break my foot stepping down off a ladder. My wife had asked me to get down some Halloween decorations from the garage attic and just stepping from the last rung to the ground caused a bone in my foot to snap. Long story short, I was out from early October until the week of Christmas. So I come back to bowling and feel like I should have just stayed away. Before the foot I was not doing well, but not TOO bad. My average the previous year was 178 and I had started out with a 165. Lower but not by too much. I come back in December and I am lucky to break 150. I tell myself it is just getting used to bowling again from the broken foot, it will get better. Well for 7 weeks it really doesn’t. From December to mid February I manage to break 170 only 1 time. I haven’t bowled that low since I can remember! Then it gets worse.
While attending a charity function I entered an elevator and the door started to close. I thought it would stop but for some reason the doors hit me square on the shoulders, squeezing me like a cartoon accordion. They opened up then, but for a few seconds my right arm went numb and just hung limply by my side. I managed to make it back upstairs where I told a few people, but nobody had seen it happen, and no security cameras. I figured I would be sore for the rest of the night and all would be well in the morning, but morning came and I couldn’t lift my arm! Great, more med bills, I can’t afford to miss work, etc. I am going to gloss over all of that and instead relate this to bowling for this post. I missed bowling from February until May with 3 weeks left to go. Therapy worked, mostly, but there was till some tightness and a little pain occasionally. I could at least get dressed without wincing in pain. I finished the year on a new low for me, my shortened year end average being a 152. I haven’t been that low since I was 12.
So I continued to work out my shoulder in the hope that I can return to form in bowling. Three weeks in I can say that so far it has been a severe disappointment. I have had issues the last few years with erratic approaches to the line from the feet and knees, but had still been able to hit the right marks most of the time. For these first few weeks I can count the number of times I had a ‘good’ shot on one hand. Shoulder is just not right, hands hurt, feet hurt, knees hurt and now for some reason my elbow hurts. I t has never hurt me before when bowling, but it does now. My 3 week average is 158. I am feeling mortal, and it sucks.
You hear sometimes about premier athletes who retire while they are still good because they can’t fathom the prospect at just being average, when they are used to being great. I am not saying I was great at bowling by any means (I do not have a 300 game, but do have a 299), but I was pretty good for a long time. This being average sucks. I can only hope it is temporary, because for now at least I am mentally having a hard time seeing weekly scores like 152, 147 and 151 (last night’s scores). It may be time to be like Mike and retire.