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making lemonade is always an option

even when we want to make them so, some things, like team rankings, just aren’t subjective. that simple truth deletes the space for any related debate, which seems to infuriate some people. and that’s usually when attacks become personal. in some circles, athletics dominate that squirrelly marketplace. but it is all seeped far deeper than what we are shown.

teams who spend the year competing against others are looked at differently than sports that determine earned accolades by personal judgements. nothing is outwardly admitted, but the differences among the natures of the competitors is clear.

when placement goals hinge on showcasing a winning personality, it is usually more obvious. there, the crossover into the entertainment landscape, competing in such a similar popularity contest, makes more sense.

making a name for oneself in more resolute team sports, though, involves a unique kind of tightrope to walk as likability parameters can change drastically based solely on the others who are present. the mosaic of the metaphorical playing field shape-shifts as the rooted-for team changes with the standings. or when an opposing player make a social blunder. which is often open to interpretation, so it still sometimes becomes the more salient metric paid attention to.

the big personality required to shoulder the responsibility of such whimsically changing demand carries with it another kind of onus, too. one that is taken for granted by most as it is simply seen as par for the course in such fields. the few closest to those in that purview have to really stay on their toes, as the butterfly effect of one small change in the makeup of the environment can alter outcomes for years to come. whether they are bought or controlled by sources unseen ceases to matter when actual health is at stake. and players seem to know that in the moments that matter most.

defining the narrative that nothing i ever did professionally was thought to be possible, not any of my cohorts also worked with both athletes and actors. but a most notorious athlete was dating an actress that colleagues at the company i worked at represented, and as he saw through the smoke and mirrors of our business almost instantaneously, they felt for her sake that someone should mind his affairs.

seeing how seamlessly it could work by having someone exist in the fold to be the bad guy, he wanted his own foray into the limelight, too. the most difficult of media personalities took note, and were not quiet. we were heavily watched, and while most of the opinions were warranted, each team he went to had a different axe to grind. when he was on their team they celebrated him. when they played opposite him, though, all bets were off. the years working with him were exciting, but long. hard. brutal, in some cases.

it was not his first rodeo when he called me after hours to announce his glee at being traded to a team in a city he yearned to play for. he was getting on a plane shortly, he said, but his list of expected anticipations preceded his bonafide reason for being there. that it was late on the east coast appeared irrelevant. he wanted to attend the most highly coveted event in fashion there was, and we had less than a week to make the impossible a reality.

excusing myself from a work dinner to answer his call was not an oddity. but nothing about the summons warned me of the hoops i would soon find myself jumping through. the people in charge of the evening were notoriously snobby. that we both had forged relationships with underlings in charge of more than they knew we figured may work in our favor, but it depended on whom we could speak with to ascertain admittance.

whether he was ticketed or not, i knew he would find some way to attend. that he was not a name they would part waves for was irrelevant to them. but scenes made there were not appreciated. or easily swept under the carpet. so my non-choice was obvious.

and if that man taught me anything, it is that the happiest of accidents come about in the most random of ways. he made it to new york. and that event. we were able to parlay his presence into a magazine internship position, and the positive press garnered from that lasted longer than his tenure on the team.

situations we find ourselves in are seldom easy. as much as we try to make them so, there is almost always a game-changing circumstance that we overlook. while he played there, a rule was literally made disallowing actions he took against a goalie. i sat with his mother as it went down, and her sideways smile told me everything i wanted to know. this had always been him. what i had faced was but a speck in her lifetime with him.

when we met up with him after the game, she hugged him proudly. the earlier transgressions weren’t mentioned. that she got to be there for that moment was what mattered. and that’s the take away. i think of her fortitude often when the frustrations with my m.s. make me want to scream. some pieces of life are ridiculous. some are maddening. but whatever the circumstances look like, they’re not the full story. and that is something to always remember.


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