Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I have always been a competitive person. Growing up in suburban Chicago in the 1960's and 1970's, I was always playing some type of sport or engaging in some type of contest. In high school, I competed in baseball, basketball, track, and cross country.

As a young adult with director of intramurals as one of my job titles in my first professional job, I was used to playing, coaching, or refereeing six evenings per week. Basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, broomball, softball - you name it, I was there.

Even today, as this "maturing" adult body breaks down, I still play on two softball teams in summer. Yes, Ernie Banks was right: the legs do go first.

This long history of passion with athletics is probably what drives me in poker today. The competition itself is great, and although winning money is very nice, the self-satisfaction with taking first in a tournament just can't be beat. I don't think that I could ever play at the final table in the WSOP. I would probably be peeing my pants the whole time I would be so excited. Can't you just see it -- "It appears that someone has spilled a drink on the floor." "No, my friend, the player in seat # 6 just wet his pants. Play on ..."

Anyway, I am reminded of one of my favorite athletic stories: how I was my high school's record holder in the triple jump.

Back in, I think, 1974, the triple jump was brought back to high school track in Illinois. At our first track meet of the year, I was the first person to jump. Now, being a long jumper, I was used to going for distance, but getting down the steps and routine for the triple jump - man, that was something else!

Anyway, I jumped first, did not foul, and therefore held the school record. The second jumper from my team jumped farther than me, thus becoming the new record holder. Yep - I held the record for five minutes.

Please hold your applause until the next notice of my athletic prowess ...


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