I am writing this just about a week before my power soccer team departs for the Founders Cup in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We will be competing with teams from around the country, and to say that I am excited about the opportunity to do this again would almost be an understatement.
It is interesting to think about this type of competition. We are people with disabilities playing a game that was designed specifically for us. I guess you could say that power soccer was obviously modeled on able-bodied soccer, but the differences are substantial. Whenever I am asked to describe what power soccer is, I usually talk more about basketball and hockey than I do soccer. However, even within those comparisons, there is the undeniable truth that this is a very different game than any of those.
The customization is a large part of what makes it special. We are able to compete in a specific game that is built for us. It is not as trying to fit into a different type of game that we might be able to do but will only be able to achieve a certain level of success.
As an example, let’s pretend that I wanted to play golf. If I was going to attempt to play golf, it would take me about 300 hits to drive a golf ball 300 yards. Technically, I suppose I could play the game, but it would obviously not be something that would be suited for me. It would be me trying to fit into a game where simply I don’t fit. You could give me a 299 stroke lead on every hole. That way, I hypothetically would be on a level playing field was someone who can drive a golf ball 300 yards in one shot, but you can see how this causes a poor fit into the nature of the game itself.
Customizing game specifically means that you don’t have to adapt the rules. Some people like the above type of inclusion, and I can somewhat see why. I know my example little bit ridiculous, but some people do appreciate altering the rules as it were to allow them to compete in the same event with everyone else. For me, I know who I am and I am quite secure in the ability I do have. Consequently, it means a lot more to me to have a specific game where I am able to compete in something that I am able to do.
Taking this illustration a step further, any victories I have or any defeats I take cannot be attributed to anyone else. For example, in my above example, let’s say I beat someone with that kind of lead given to me to try to make it a fairer competition for me. I appreciate the intent, but after my victory, we all know that the person who I beat would probably be thinking that he would have emerged victorious if I didn’t have such a heavy handicap.
You might say that my competitor is just being a sore loser or something like that, but you have to keep in mind that in these scenarios, the rules of the game have been modified to allow me to even be competitive. If everything was equal, I would have been beaten really badly. Something seems wrong to me when, again, the game does not fit me personally. Perhaps I have played as good of a game as I could, but based on what the game of golf actually is, the simple fact of reality is that my game is not all that good. The only way I can win is if the fundamental rules of the game are changed to allow me to do so.
Again, coming back to power soccer, it is something that I am able to do myself, so any victory I have can be attributed to my own ability. Intellectually, I understand that if I play well, I can win. I might not win, but it is not as if the threshold of victory is too high for me to ever be able to achieve. If I play to the best of my ability, it is a game that is specifically designed for me to be able to do well and hopefully triumph.
This is why it matters to develop things that are specific to you. It matters if something is the right fit. All of the benefits of competition can be truly experienced when the atmosphere is actually right. I worry about that especially in our world were often times simply acknowledging differences can be seen as hateful or downright evil. At least in my experience, recognizing what makes me different has allowed me to embrace being a part of a different sport. Able-bodied people do not play it. They have their own soccer, and that is a great game. We have our own soccer, customized for us.
I have two consequent options. On one hand, I could deny I am any different than anybody else. That’s of course an option. I could say that the only reason I was not a soccer star was because they would not adopt a game of soccer to allow me to compete. If you do that, soccer is no longer soccer. It might be some different game, but it doesn’t remain soccer anymore.
On the other hand, I could accept the fact that able-bodied soccer simply is not the game for me. I can’t walk, that should be a pretty obvious fact. Fortunately, some great people developed a great game for people like me to play who want to have a real sport but cannot do it in the traditional way.
Does this mean that I have to come face-to-face with reality in a way that some people are not used to doing? It absolutely does. It means look at the objective truth that there are certain things about me that don’t change the matter how much I might want them to.
The acceptance of an alternative means the denial of the primary. Many people don’t like that, but when I consider all of the joy that I have experienced through the alternative and the joy that I have seen other people have through being able to play power soccer, I can’t help but think that these alternatives are truly the better way.