Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Just Because I'm Tall

By any way you measure it, I’m above your average standard in height. In my own calculations I check in at 6’8” or 2.032 meters for you European folk. That’s one inch shorter than what I’m listed in the media guide and a whopping 11 inches taller than the 5’9” average of Caucasian-American men. (Source)

You could say a lot of people look up to me, I was 5’9” before I began middle school.

Growing up, I always towered over my classmates making it nearly impossible not to “stick out” among my peers. I was a head taller than everyone else, most times even my teacher. In elementary school, I always had to bring up the rear when walking in single file lines because if someone walked behind me, they might inadvertently catch an elbow if they weren’t careful.

I stuck out in athletics too.

When you’re taller than everyone, it’s presumed that you’re older as well. It didn’t matter whether it was soccer, baseball, or basketball, my father always had a copy of my birth certificate on hand if anyone wanted to dispute my real age. We might even have made copies to keep one in each car.

I obviously chose to pursue one sport more than any other, but it might not be for the reasons you think. I have heard people say that it’d be a waste of height if tall men didn’t at least give basketball a try and I don’t agree with that. Being pressured to participate in any activity because of a physical attribute is wrong. Honestly, I chose to stick with basketball because it took the least amount of time to get ready for. Soccer had long socks and sweaty shin guards. Baseball had a hat and pants in the summertime. Neither of these worked for me. All you need for basketball is some high-top sneakers.

Because of my height, my whole life I’ve been peppered with questions from strangers that want to know if I play basketball. Who do I play for, they want to know. I hope I don’t disappoint them when my answers tend to be a sport that doesn’t require height, like hockey or table tennis. I think I sell it on my demonstration of my ferocious slap shot or wicked backhand.

The worst is when these same strangers then proceed to tell me the entire life story of someone else they know that is also tall. As if I would care that your 14 year-old nephew is 6’2”, wears a size 12 shoe and plays basketball for the freshmen B team at his high school I've never heard of. What am I to do with this information, other than smile politely and nod right back at you?

Do I wish I was shorter? No. Do I wish I was taller? Nope. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was just surprised so many of you average dudes got the “short” end of the stick.