Addiction and alcoholism are cunning.
They can be so powerful that they pry our greatest passions from our grasp, forcing us to forget the people and things we love and cherish most.
Many Sober College clients come into treatment with histories in sports and athletics. As clients get clean and begin to strengthen themselves physically and mentally, they get the urge to get back into the sports they once loved. Fortunately, Sober College provides clients the opportunity to participate in a variety of different team and individual sports – ranging from basketball and soccer to lacrosse and baseball – through various local adult leagues.
I recently tagged along to observe a few Sober College clients playing the sport they enjoy most: baseball. As I watched from the bleachers, I was reminded of my childhood. I remembered a time in my life when my days were filled with pickup games and friends; when summer never seemed to die and my innocence had yet to give way to the rigors and struggles of life.
As the teams took the field, I watched each player take his position. I focused on the Sober College clients, watching them move with a grace and passion that was likely lost or forgotten in the throws of addiction. I was, frankly, surprised at the skill they somehow had maintained despite losing the sport to their addictions. Inning after inning, each of the clients maintained focus and communicated with their teammates in order to give them the best chance at scoring a run.
Sports allow us to work for a common team goal; winning. They provide players a chance to connect with each other and to build unique, interactive relationships. Sports build comradery, and help us practice the skills necessary to be both a team player and effective communicator. They give us the chance to strengthen our bodies and minds. They allow us to reconnect with our childhood innocence and days filled with daydreams of becoming a professional athlete. They allow us to take a break from everyday life and simply enjoy the moment.
Baseball, as with many other sports, can be compared to life. The players can make mistakes and errors; they might hit a homerun or they might strike out. But, what remains most important, is that they get back in the batter’s box and keep on swinging.
As addicts, we can relate. We struck out repeatedly until we stopped swinging entirely. We failed to see any chance at a comeback, and eventually gave up on the game altogether. Some of us even gave up after the first inning.
Getting clean pushes us towards that comeback… Towards believing in miracles and believing in the fight, until the very last inning. We learn to take defeat with poise and humility, before getting back on our feet to try again. We learn what it means to be honorable, to share in the joys of victory. We learn to play the game of life with grace while also understanding that perfection is merely something to strive for, not something that can be achieved.