Recent research in one of my fields of special interest, gene technology, has uncovered something that I have known intuitively for some time - the presence of the “stupid" gene. This gene is present in all humans without exception, but is especially active in sports people - particularly Squash players and footballers.
A good example is the story related to me by an Australian friend who told of talented rugby footballer who, in the last minute of the game was able to kick a field (drop) goal. This would have been an excellent achievement had his side not been trailing by four points, a field goal being worth only three. At the time his team was attacking the opposition's goal line and may have scored a try (touchdown) worth five points. His team may have won the match, but his goal ensured that they would lose it.
This was a classic case of the stupid gene controlling the player's actions.
In the game of Squash, recent events have caused me to see the stupid gene in action first hand. Of late, a number of young players who climb my mountain to seek wisdom on the Squash court, have shown me the power of the stupid gene is by no means diminishing but on the contrary, increasing. Every strategy has been explored and implemented leaving no stone unturned in trying to find a solution to the blight on the Squash game of these tyros.
After the obligatory series of drills, tactical routines and games, we normally spend a few precious moments playing a game. Suddenly their previous tactical control and discipline deserts them and it is short, short, short. They play the ball short at the earliest opportunity and sometimes earlier. Despite the hours of instruction on the tactics of this sacred game (which verges on indoctrination), they persist in throwing these basics out the window, or should that be the court door.
Let me explain that I am a man very close to two score and ten, with a serious back ailment, injured groin, and totally lacking in physical fitness. I am, in short, a cripple. Despite this, I am able to return the vast majority of their short shots with ease, to the extent that within a shot or two I have won the rally. Usually frustrated by this they try to go shorter (that is, lower) with the inevitable result. Tin.
Oh how I have tried to provide corrective advice. Hit the ball deeper to force me into the back corners, thus gaining control of the T, placing themselves in a position to take advantage of any loose shots I might play. But no, I am able to virtually set up camp in the front half of the court. These young tyros think me a genius. I do no more than accept their gifts. This they cannot see.
On rare occasions when I struggle to retrieve their short shots, I must collect my composure at the front of the court, allowing my opponent an easy winner. Instead, I watch with mixed emotions as the tin becomes my saviour. Why hadn't they hit the ball to length for a simple winner?" I enquire. The invariable reply is “I was trying". Yes, very trying.
Now it doesn't take a guru to point out that to hit the ball deep, one must have height - about two metres above the tin. The reason they have played this shot is that the stupid gene has completely overridden the “I don't think that's a particularly good idea" gene. Trying to provide corrective advice at the time is ineffectual. They are still in the grips of this most obnoxious of human building blocks.
I should point out that no one is immune from the stupid gene. Some time ago, whilst playing a formidable opponent who made the trek up to my mountain court, I was taken over by this gene. A normally reliable backhand volley started to break down. Did I decide that discretion was the better part of valour and refrain from playing the shot? No the stupid gene forced me to continue to play the shot till the all too brief and bitter end.
I meditated for many hours in the lotus position at the T, trying to eradicate these behaviours. Thinking I achieved the ultimate and had taken the “stup" out of stupid and only left the “id", I played a superb match against the same opponent until the fourth game when I was down 2 - 7. I realised that the stupid gene was causing me to go short too often. Fortunately, the mental strength gained from the countless hours of meditation, I was able to correct my behaviour and take that fourth game and the match.
My solution is not to use this gene as an excuse. As we all have it, we are all at a similar disadvantage. It is those who learn to control this characteristic who will succeed. And of course those who learn the lesson: even cripples can get short stuff.
Ray Strach aka The Guru, provides slightly off center comment on Squash and life at http://www.squashgame.info , one of the world's leading Squash resouce web sites. To view the original article with useful links, use this link: Even Cripples Get the Short Stuff.
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