Winning Never Gets Old

trophyI like to play basketball. I am clearly over the hill for the pace of the game. I was never very skilled, even when I was younger, but I have always nonetheless enjoyed playing the game. I am 6’2” and (too heavy) 235 pounds, though I am 50 pounds lighter than my peak 15 years ago. I was never a gazelle on the court, though I run the floor (which in the league I play in is about 75 feet). So given my girth I am considered a “big man”.

I have played in an over 40 Masters league at the JCC for the past 15+ years. Since I am 67 years old, I obviously qualify age-wise. In fact, I “over qualify” and am among a handful of 65+ aged players. The average age of the players is late 40s/50, and getting younger all the time. There are 10 teams of 7 players each and we play a schedule of 10 games and then playoffs. And the league runs year-round, with a new season following the playoffs.

teamI am now proud to be a champion as part of the winning team for the latest league. As you can see from the top photo, I am holding the coveted “Blumenfeld Family trophy” (hardly the Stanley Cup) which recognizes the winners. I am also fortunate to have been one the league champs more often than pro-rata. I’d like to think I’ve contributed to the success on the teams when we have won, because winning is never easy. However, today I am copacetic with my decreased skill and role as a player. In fact, my latest team was the first one in which I was not a starter and came off the bench, playing roughly 25-30 minutes in the 40-minute games. I have adjusted to the reality that my game has regressed but I contribute in small but meaningful ways—a rebound, put back, short jumpers, tight defense against larger players. My offensive game, largely limited in the past to short jumpers, post ups, etc. has diminished. I don’t block as many shots as I once did. There’s also the reality of the slowing reflexes in one’s late 60s. But I have enough skill to contribute, and I know what to do on the court, even if the body is not always willing.

But being a champion as part of a team reminds me of the things in life and business that bring joy—being part of something greater than oneself, the seamless meshing of individuals towards a greater goal—and yes, the thrill of victory. In business, I ran ad agencies years ago I enjoyed pitching new business. It was always a bonding experience. To be clear, I enjoyed pitching and WINNING new business. The meshing of a group of skilled individuals was galvanizing and exhilarating (when we won).

But victory in business was rarely immediate. After the pitch, I’d have to await “the call”—good news or bad. Alas, more Ls than Ws in these reviews. But on the hardwood, the results are immediate, you win or you lose.

I’m glad to have played a small part on the team in gaining the championship. Our league now begins anew with a new draft of players, new teams and the journey begins again. Once again, I will be bringing my girth and my modest skills. More I can’t offer. But winning is always great and never gets old, even if I do.

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