Sport and I do not get on particularly well. Or outdoor activities in general, for that matter.

For as long as I can remember, I've not been in the slightest bit talented in the sports department. Partly due to a lack of interest, and partly due to the fact that I was born with my left eye askew which means that, despite an operation at age 2 and a subsequent 10 years wearing glasses, I have pretty much zero depth perception, which sort of limits my participation in anything involving fast-moving objects and connecting with same. I've managed to teach myself to juggle - after a fashion - out of sheer orneriness, though.

Still, I persist. I played Gaelic football and hurling at various intervals while growing up, occasionally joined in in soccer and basketball games, and in recent years I've taken to frisbee on a casual basis. And then there's softball.

Since I moved to Dublin in 1996, the local chapter of the DSPs have taken to the occasional softball outing in whatever green spaces we can lay hands on. After a few games it became obvious that a necessary part of the game is a sacrifice to the sporting gods, generally Bob or JoeV

or me.

My first sacrificial act - Summer 1996 - was a brave attempt to get to a base before JoeV did, resulting in my elbowing my own floating ribs into doctor-requiring condition. Painkillers and anti-inflammatories for a week, thank you.

Last year, 1997, I managed to escape injury through softball, but I did manage a severe ribcage bruising while trying to catch a frisbee while we were walking to the softball game. I skipped on the doctor this time, and settled with hurting for a few days.

This year (1998) I tried catching a potential home-run hit by Cliffy.

Without a mitt.

"Hi doc," I said, "I'm back with my annual baseball injury. "Hmm," he said, examining my swollen finger, and then my medical record, "then I'll prescribe your annual dose of painkillers and anti-inflammatories. Oh, and go to the hospital, and take a week off work."

Hospital verdict (after the triage nurse pulled down my finger and asked, "does this hurt?" - apparently my girlish scream wasn't a sufficiently obvious clue): Hairline fracture of second bone in my right little finger, just above the joint. Bonus points for being right-handed, thus incapacitating myself pretty well. Fingers strapped for a fortnight (which turned into a month), and wear a sling for three days. Oh, and no softball for at least a month.

So last weekend, I skipped on the soccer match and drank beer instead. Much safer, modulo the subsequent hangover.

2000 update

I went rollerblading with two of the office babes. Oh boy. Was that ever dumb. While blundering down a slope near the East Point Business Park, I managed to do an entertaining little dance as I tried to avoid falling over, much to the amusement of the two girls. I laughed too.

"Haha, Gravity, I laugh at you!", I said.

So Gravity twitched, and I fell over. Sort of like this:

1. O   2.  O  3.   ow!
   |      /         
   |     /      ,----O

You know, I pivoted about my ankles and did a full-length body-slam on the cold, hard pavement. Fortunately, I managed to fall with my right arm underneath me, so it wasn't a face plant, and the only near-facial damage was a tiny patch of road rash on my neck. However, the arm breaking my fall had a bloody great FIST at the end of it, which had cold, hard, non-yielding tarmac on one side, and somewhat more yielding upper ribcage (just short of my collarbone, luckily) on the other side. WHAM. Cracked rib, upper right-hand side. Needless to say, there was also some pretty spectacular road rash on the arm itself, as although I'd done a fairly linear body-slam, I did slide slightly as I hit the ground. Ooof.

I've not been blading since. Ice skating, but no blading.

2001 update

I'm nothing if not consistent...

Man. You'd think I'd learn. But no, when the opportunity arose, I signed up for some company-provided exercise, in the form of aerobics, and soccer. The latter is a sport, you know. Just like all the other things that have caused me injury. But I scorned fortune, and played on.

The first week was pretty good, excluding the fact that I'm utterly crap at soccer. The second week, I was doing a little better, having not only scored a goal but also having stopped a few. Then towards the end of the session, it was me and a striker from the other team (well, he was a striker at that moment in time. You don't have much scope for actual roles in five-a-side soccer.) and the ball.

He took the shot. I batted it down, having never been one to simply catch the ball.

He got to the rebound; I was on the ground at this point, but I managed to stop the shot. The ball dribbled loose from my fingers and started rolling toward the goal line.

I'm not clear on what I did next, but it concluded with me inside the goal, the ball on the right side of the goal line - YAY! I SAVED IT! - and a familiar pain in my lower right ribcage. I'd managed to trap my elbow under me as I went down, and my knee forced it into my ribcage, resulting in yet another cracked rib. In addition to the rib, I also managed to twist my other knee slightly, but that was only a marginal injury.

I've not let it stop me, though. I'm still at both the soccer and aerobics, and signing up for second class-per-week of the latter this coming week. Take that, fate, and STUFF IT.

Waider "Waider, you don't get sick much, but you break awfully easily."
-- Conor Bob