There’s No I in Team, Or Pool

sportsmanship awardAs you may know, I’m a highly competitive person. I love to win! And I’ll be the first to admit, I used to be the sort of competitive that was unhealthy and “un-fun”. Especially on pool league nights. When it came to frustrations and disappointment, I wore my heart on my sleeve – which can make lining up a shot rather difficult!

After years of playing pool that way, I resolved to make a change. After all, this is a game I love, and yet every missed shot or lost match could put me in bad mood. So, in recent months, I decided to change it up, improve my attitude, and remember that the point of games is that they’re supposed to be fun!

After a few months of practicing my new approach – lightening up over missed shots, celebrating the good ones, offering genuine congratulations (or consolations) to my opponents on their shots – it became a habit. And a funny thing happened – I realized that I was enjoying myself a lot more than I used to on pool league nights.

When I qualified for a national APA 9-ball shootout tournament in Las Vegas, I brought my new attitude with me. I planned to kick back, enjoy my trip, and maybe even make some new friends. So when the day of the tournament came, I played for the love of the sport, making sure to enjoy my successes and those of my opponents – all 450 of them.

I wasn’t really thinking about it, but when my opponents nailed a difficult shot, I was the first one to congratulate them on it. If I won a round due to a lucky shot, I recognized my opponent’s hard work, shooting back with a genuine – “You were robbed!”

I made the most of every game, and started to actually value the smiles on my opponents’ faces more than the scores I was racking up. In fact,I wasn’t even thinking of them as opponents, but rather as my fellow players.

And, much to my surprise, I won.

No, not first place at the tournament, but something even more valuable – the tournament’s one and only sportsmanship award!

While there are multiple categories in which to win first place, there’s only one sportsmanship award, determined via nominations and support of the referees and the 450 players.

It just goes to show you – it’s never too late to have an attitude adjustment. But I haven’t totally lost my competitive spirit – it made me pretty happy to hear my husband admit I’d beaten him. “You beat me good, Mary,” he laughed after the tournament. “Because that’s one award I’ll definitely never win!”

Happy Monday,