July 17, 2013

Life Balance (through bobsled and baseball) - by Curt Tomasevicz

Life is full of balance. One summer a farmer battles a drought and the next summer he battles with flooding. A cold April can be followed by high temperatures in May. These natural life balances occur whether we like it or not. Some happen in nature and some are our subconscious choices. And this is the only reason I can think of to explain my passion for my favorite two sports; bobsled and baseball. I like the excitement and adrenaline rush that bobsled brings and I like the intellectual challenges that comes with baseball. These are two drastically different reasons.

I know that the sport of bobsled isn’t on the minds of many people other than the athletes and coaches that are looking forward to competing at the 2014 Winter Olympics. It is the middle of July and, in the United States, baseball is primarily the popular sport right now. In fact, the baseball all-star game is being played this week in New York. Despite playing college football, baseball is my favorite sport to follow. And I don’t think there could be two sports more different than bobsled and baseball.

I’m a guy that likes math, numbers, and statistics. And in baseball, everything is recorded and there are stats on every action. Slugging percentage, quality starts, defensive indifference, blown saves, and left-on-base are just a few statistics that may sound ridiculous, but they have significant meaning to a baseball manager. From these statistics, I like the mental games within the game of baseball. Baseball managers and players make decisions based on percentages and odds rather than hunches and guesses. In addition to strength, speed, and power, it is clearly a thinking game. There is no time limit or clock and no excuse to be out of position or unprepared at any time or pitch. Despite what Skip says in the movie Bull Durham, baseball is more than just “throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball.” The American Pastime is a game of mental strategy and execution.

In many ways, bobsled is the exact opposite. There is zero time to think in a bobsled. Sleds rocket down the ice on the edge of out-of-control at speeds over 90 mph. A sled and four men tipping the scale at nearly 1400 pounds carries enough momentum that it may take almost a quarter mile of braking to stop. Drivers must develop millisecond instinct that tells them where to steer the sled instead of planning, thinking, and executing a planned course for the sled’s path. A coach can do nothing to help the team once the sled has left the starting block. There is no time to make adjustments and change strategies in mid-flight down the track.

Maybe being a fan of both sports feeds my desire for balance and completeness. Opposites attract, but what opposites are you attracted to?

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