Risks of Dodge Ball

by Phil Herzing, Guest Author

Do you remember playing dodgeball in school?  I sure do, but I think my approach to the game was all wrong.  You see, I was kind of a scrawny, introverted, nerdy kid (I know, who could have guessed?!), and my objective in playing dodgeball was to be as invisible as long as possible, so as to remain in the game as long as I could.  I was a master at running and hiding from trouble, and lurking behind bigger kids, whom I used as human shields in the game.

Because of these efforts, I was, in fact, often one of the last kids knocked out of the game.  However, three important lessons emerged from this strategy, as I now reflect upon those days.  First, I was only in it for myself.  I didn’t care what happened to the other kids on my team, as long as I remained in the game as long as I could.  This was obviously rather selfish, and therefore warped.  Second, to no one’s surprise, I was usually one of the last kids picked during that horrid grade-school ritual.  Since I wasn’t a team player, working only for myself in the game, I was not a valued asset in the competition.  Finally, to be perfectly honest with you, I never really had much fun in the game.  Since the whole point of the exercise was to prolong the inevitable, unpleasant outcome as long as possible, there was little joy for me in Dodgeball.  In short, “risk avoidance” was the name of my game.  Perhaps you can relate.

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Something changed for me later in high school.  While dodgeball was no longer the game of choice, I found myself in other competitions.  To put it succinctly, I had an epiphany the first time I abandoned my former tactic of playing it safe.  I started taking wild, crazy risks, and usually got knocked out of the games earlier than formerly.  But, can I tell you something?  I started having a heck of a lot of fun!  And the sideline banter was raucous and convivial, because I was entering into the spirit of the game, thereby helping others to do the same.  No longer was I picked last, either.  It was a complete 180, and all because I embraced the thrill of taking risks rather than fleeing them like a wimp.

I know this has been a long tale, but my hope is that you might be able to see something of yourself in it.  While I don’t embrace all risks these days, I’ve now come to see that taking chances is what keeps life interesting.  Some risks are more reckless than others, of course, but I’ve settled on the conclusion that it’s better to risk and possibly lose a few rounds, than merely to play defense every day of our lives.  Today’s quotations focus on the rewards of taking a few chances.  I hope you have a zesty, risk-filled week.

“Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.” — Anonymous

“If you limit your actions in life to things that nobody can possibly find fault with, you will not do much.” — Curtis Ludwidge Dodgson

“This nation was built by men who took risks – pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, business men who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action.” — Brooks Atkinson

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” — Helen Keller

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