Life on the Edge of Impossible!

Contributing Editor Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor Walt Pickut

Bowling or Bowl-ing? Are we knocking down 300 points-worth of pins or are we knocking down 300-pound men?

Next Sunday, it will be all bowl-ing—Superbowl-ing—that is! You can go bowling some other time!

Though the Bills are out of the Big Game this year, the run-up to this year’s Superbowl is eerily similar to how it happened for Superbowl I all the way back in 1967.

To get into that game, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills 31–7. At least this year the Bills cut the spread from three TDs and a FG down to two TDs.

So why mention bowling along with the Superbowl-ing at all—apart from a chance to make a really bad pun?

It’s because of the curious fact that every sport ever invented pushes life to the very edge of human ability. A good sport has to be nearly impossible—or it is no fun at all.
A leather bag filled with air weighs less that a pound (a regulation NFL football weighs in at 14-15 ounces). Just about anybody could tote the thing 300 feet. Except with 11 of the toughest, meanest, fastest men in the entire USA in your way. That’s impossible unless you have 10 more of those guys on your side, too.

In other words, a good sport is always “impossible against impossible.” Now let’s see who wins.

Consider these:

  1. Can you send a 1.6 oz white pellet so far away you almost can’t see it without taking a single step? That’s golf.
  2. Can you spot a 3-inch sphere speeding at you at 90 mph, figure out exactly when it will be in front of you, and bat it 400 feet away at over 100 mph? You have less than ½ second to do it, but human reaction time is almost twice that long. Try baseball.
  3. The average human healthy enough to run hard gets along at about 15 mph. But if you want to beat Usain Boldt, Olympic gold medalist, you’ll have to nearly double that (Usain’s top speed is 27.8 mph)! Impossible.

Get it? Nobody would show up to watch an Olympic 100-yard mosey, a baseball game swinging pool-noodles at foam rubber balls, or a full-sized golf course played with putters or pool cues.
That’s why the best kind of spectator sports is watching a person or a team you identify with while they do the impossible. While watching, you can out-strategize the best, out-guess the opposition, out-run the fastest, and remember when you could have done all that yourself.

But there’s one more thing—even better than identifying with people who do the impossible. It’s being inspired by them.

Do you have something impossible to tackle? Along with your pizza and wings, how about a side of inspiration with your Superbowl—or whatever sporting event you like best. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Tommy Lasorda once said, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.”

Three more for your inspiration:

  • “Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.” Marv Levy – the winningest coach in Bills’ history.
  • “Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one-yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown.” Ross Perot – Entrepreneur
  • “You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.” Herb Brooks – Hockey Coach

Enjoy the read!

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.