Whatever the sport, whatever the game, there is one underrated position: benchwarmer. Although it is seen as a lack of skill, coordination, talent or mix of the three being a benchwarmer is the best thing that can happen to you in sports.
I used to think being a starter was amazing -- and I was a starter for one game. But before I knew it, I was placed on the second string and thought it was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Little did I know, there was nothing better.
Of course, I was kind of bummed and hoping I could prove myself worthy of starting again. I thought that if I worked really hard at practice, was super focused during games and sucked up to the coach a little bit maybe I could be seen as a team leader. After trying that for a few weeks, I gave up. Putting in all the effort I had, I decided to let the seriousness go, and have fun. There was no point in me practicing that hard, I wasn't that good, and I wasn't that competitive. Not to mention, I hated the position I played. But that didn't mean I still wouldn't try for me. I just decided I wasn't going to work that hard for something that really didn't matter that much to me.
When I finally accepted my bench-warming position I fell in love with it. I had a blast sitting on the sidelines, without the pressure, the yelling or the guilt of messing up. Working on a team can get pretty stressful, especially with only five players on the court at a time. You will be passed to, you will have to make shots and you most definitely will make big mistakes. It's not that I didn't care about playing hard, but I didn't care about winning or making my teammates feel bad about messing up. Who was I to yell at them? But that hadn't stopped anyone from yelling at me.
I was in the best position, now; getting to play my fill during practice without the tension, and getting away with a lot of fun because I didn't need to be so serious. My friend and I basically goofed off every minute, with laughter being the reason we were out of breath. We sat side by side on the bench, cheering if the other got to go into the game by chance, and made jokes all four quarters.
I never had to have my uniform washed, I didn't have to worry if I forgot my lucky headband and I wasn't on the coaches radar. It was awesome. I learned that being the underdog has its own perks, that sitting out during the games was way more fun than actually playing and that I played this sport because I loved it -- not because I was good at it.
Now, I'm not saying I didn't love playing as well, but I learned to love just being part of the team. I learned to love getting to know my teammates more than I ever had, and I learned to love being second best.
Because that's what happens when you love something enough -- you stick around for it, whether you're included in that or not. I just loved the sport and wanted to spend my time surrounded by it whether that meant playing or watching. That's why being a benchwarmer is the best thing to happen to me in sports because it showed my true love for the game and what it really meant to me.