Friday, June 17, 2016

Far-Sighted and Near-Sighted Vision in Sports

At my recent eye exam, I was reminded that our vision changes because our eyes do. My right eye is very weak and has a stigmatism. My left eye is much stronger but in the past few years has degenerated from 20/30 vision to 20/50. How I wish I was like my friend who discovered she was over-corrected in her prescription for contacts. Her sight was blurred because the change in her eyes made her vision stronger. Her words made me think about what else makes our vision stronger. Recent events in the wide world of sports has given me plenty of examples beyond good health, a healthy diet of carrots and dark, leafy greens, hydration, and limited sun exposure. Life experiences, age and wisdom each influence add to the mix.

Our Passions
I always tell my students that (most) everyone knows how to run, but not everyone is a runner. I query, When does someone become a runner? Some shy from labels, but I believe it's a question of identity, one of commitment and understanding. I write this because I now consider myself to be a golfer. 

When I joined the Olympic Club in 2013, my commitment to the game got a significant boost. I've been a long time fan of the PGA and the Majors are among my favorite sporting events. But sometime in the past year, something clicked. Perhaps it was my losing that raw fear of the game—not knowing if I would make regular contact with that 1.6" ball but I've witnessed a shift. And my new identity was revealed  in one of the most unlikely places: baseball.

I've attended hundreds of baseball games in my life. A loyal San Francisco Giants fan since my youth, I've seen a lot, including the cycle, but playing golf has changed how I see contact in the game. I have a much more accurate sense of how far the ball will travel, where it may draw or fade, how the wind will affect where it will land in the outfield, or beyond. My new vision caught me by surprise, a pleasant one. 

Playing on the Lakeside course on Sunday, my friend and I were paired with a Father-Son duo. I looked at the son and knowingly asked, "did you play baseball?" I enjoyed watching his ball with that perspective in mind.

What we are passionate can't help but color how we see other aspects of our life. Pay attention to what carries over.

Millions of people struggle with back pain. I am now one of them.

As a runner, I always had a fair amount of lower back pain. The pounding of the pavement isn't just hard on one's knees. But last year, I did something to my right lumbar (?) and now ice, Alleve, Ibuprofen and stretching are a regular part of my daily life. When I first hurt it, at times it was so bad that it was hard to stand, sleep, and obviously, play golf. 

With time, rest and ice, the pain diminished—but every now and then it recurs. I lost a lot of golf but I gained empathy. I came to understand how people can become addicted to pain killers, to alcohol (it certainly cut the pain), and can get depressed. It should be of little surprise that  was reminded of that struggle when I watched Andre Igoudala during Game 6 of the NBA Finals. 
As written for
Early in the game, Iguodala had his back worked on during a timeout, and was forced to leave the game for a short period. He returned, but was seen hobbling on the floor. Still, he remained in the contest.
My respect and admiration for Iggy is sky-high. His defense against LeBron in the 2015 Finals is what led to the Warriors victory and his MVP award. But I also knew what a back injury does and as much as he wanted to give more, the body had other plans in mind.

Far-Sighted vs. Near Sighted
For some reason, my ability to see where her golf ball lands drives my friend Lisa crazy. She has said more than once "you don't even look and you know where it is." What she doesn't realize is that I am far-sighted. I can barely read the type face in Sports Illustrated these days and yet, I can see her golf ball sail 180 yards down the fair way with ease. 

It's tough to gauge how each one of us sees the world. We each carry a bias and as a sports fan, I try to balance by subjective point of view with an objective outlook—or to relate it to vision, I seek to consider a near-sighted view with a far-sighted one. We gain from each.
I write this because I am a LeBron James fan. Apart from "The Decision," I can't figure out a reason not to be. A four-time MVP in the NBA, James is an incredible athlete and competitor. Honestly, I won't even waste the time or effort to make a case for LeBron....I'll let his body of work speak for itself. But in the NBA Finals, my vision has helped me see something I don't like: LeBron's behavior on the court is increasingly more unsportsmanlike.

I know the pressure is on. No one wants another title, and one for NorthEast Ohio in the way James does, but with each additional game, as his reaction to calls, the way he is going after certain players and the refs leaves me unimpressed. In the 4th quarter of Game 6, he went after Steph, and my brother, who plays a lot of street basketball to this day, admitted what LeBron did was a "punk move." Warrior fans have created a mime about LeBron crying more that Riley Curry. It's funny because the cutie pie Riley is wearing Ray Ban aviators...and because it's more true than not.

I am aware that Steph was thrown out of the game because upon being charged for his sixth foul of the game he threw his mouthpiece. My far sighted vision sees that as comical. Up close, it's not much different.

C.S. Lewis had it right when he said, “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” Our passions, life challenges, our gut instincts shape how we see what we see. Ultimately, our vision changes and will continue to change....because we do

Go Dubs

Photo Credits
Steph and LeBron
Iggy: from article

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