As a newly minted member of the WWW rotation, I have been thinking about what is it that waiting really means and its influence on our relationship with sports. It is an inescapable truth that most of life is occupied by the exercise of waiting. Freezing children on snowy street corners wait for the school bus to arrive and bring relief to their burning ears. The rest of the day is spent watching the clock slowly march around the dial until the magical sound of bells ringing is finally heard. As you move into adulthood you wait for your application to college to be accepted and then for your resume to make an impression on the head of HR at a company where you see an opportunity to launch your dream career. We wait to catch that break, to meet that person, to have that idea.
The key to success is what we accomplish “While We’re Waiting”. It is truly important to prepare for the next fork in the road, yet there is much joy to be captured while driving to get there. Every person you meet widens your perspective a bit if you actually met them. Each stop on the road is worth your focus for it builds you as a person and develops your worldview. Waiting is a gateway if utilized properly and a path to nowhere if frittered away. We decide. Frightening perhaps, but ever so empowering.
This is why I have soured on the NBA. Think about it. Everyone is miserable, it seems. AD. KD and KP. Kyrie and Kawhi. Every superstar of consequence is onto the next town, setting up the next chapter. The ink barely dries on a contract and the angling begins for the next one. The games don’t matter much anymore. We no longer refer to these obscenely talented people like basketball players. Instead, they are assets, expirings, and midlevel exceptions. Woj-watching trumps clips of Luka, Shams is more relevant than Paul George lighting the world on fire. Highlights are clips of talking heads instead of breaking down no-look passes with @SportsNom. We debate about the virtues of tanking and burning it down and have forgotten about the virtues of lifting off and building it up. The NBA is the wasteland that comes with looking for greener grass rather than mowing your own lawn. We kick the can down the road and make a game of counting how many times it bounces up and down. The Warriors are perhaps the greatest team ever assembled but it is of no consequence. No one is watching, we are all just waiting to get the season over with so we can breathlessly discuss which set of people in suits win the most important competition of all, the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. Waiting can be so valuable. For me, the version of waiting in the NBA has only wrought destruction.
I am having a different moment of waiting with the Cleveland Browns. For the first time in forever, I await the NFL draft and offseason with a message of hope. It’s about finding the right pieces and beginning to win. The primary focus of the draft is an eye towards what actually will play out on the field. No more aimlessly throwing darts and hoping something sticks, but actually knowing what you are aiming for. It’s not about waiting for the front office to find a way to screw it up (then they signed Kareem Hunt which is beyond the scope of this article and needs its own discussion), it’s about waiting for them to execute a well-thought-out plan. I wait impatiently for Baker Mayfield to step out on the field again, for the NFL Shop to start carrying Color Rush jerseys again and for First Energy Stadium to sound like it did in the ’80s. I am appreciating the wait because it is laced with purpose. What is happening now is integral to the process of achieving the ultimate goal, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is finally in view. So I wait, happily.
The Indians is the weird one. They are in the longed for window that small markets live for. A formidable starting rotation and two top 10 postion players are in the fold and they reside in a hapless division. It is now time to make the final kick, for little Seabiscuit to chase down War Admiral. And yet instead of brandishing the whip, we have pulled in the reins. The front office, in a ridiculously cheap market, sits firmly on their hands. There is action to be had but the bookie’s phone goes straight to voicemail. The odds are ever in our favor, why the hell are we walking out of the racetrack? For crying out loud, place your bets, the wait is over. Get on with it and get moving. There will be time for waiting when Frankie is sporting pinstripes.
Waiting is life. Knowing when, knowing how and knowing if is the difference between spinning your wheels in the dirt or, moving forward while watching the wet mud fly off the spokes. Embrace the power of the current moment while keeping in mind the insight it will provide for future opportunities that come to those that wait. We can live while we’re waiting and we can wait while we’re living. All at the very same time.