Competitiveness is a heck of a thing.
It can fuel somebody to focus more intently on the task at hand and can contribute that extra push that makes the difference between success and failure. Those with serious competitive streaks will not accept losing at anything and will not let anything get in the way of winning. Of course, there are certain perils that come with having that competitiveness trait run rampant through your psyche.
For instance, my own competitiveness streak causes me to have a tendency to talk trash to people. I like getting people worried about me before playing a game of pool, and I love nothing more than getting under someone’s skin on a poker table. If they are worried about what I’m saying, I rationalize, then they are not focused the way they need to be, and I hold an advantage. Besides the strategy, it also makes me laugh.
And that’s important.
On the flip side, being a person who likes to talk a bit of smack can get me in trouble from time to time. Take last weekend, for example. I was signed up to participate in the Beta Sigma Phi Cornhole Tournament at the Millville fire hall last Saturday. It was a tremendous event, and the money raised benefitted the Russell White Scholarship Foundation, an entity created by the sorority to keep alive the memory of a local young man who lost his life in Afghanistan while proudly serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.
For those of you who are unaware, cornhole is a game similar to horseshoes in that you’re on a team with one other person, and you’re throwing objects at another object, hoping you can outscore the opposing team. In cornhole, you are throwing a bag of corn at a wooden board with a hole in it. Simple, right?
Well, that was the assumption I was under at the time. My partner in the tournament, Shaun Lambert, had played before and told me it was very easy, and something I would pick up pretty quickly. With that little nugget in mind, and knowing that friends Sarah Lyons Hoban and Emily Lyons Harne were also in the tournament as a team, I started with the trash-talking.
For about two weeks before the tournament, I zeroed in on Sarah and Emily. As their responses became more and more aggressive in nature, I felt like I had them right where I wanted them — more worried about what I was going to say next than thinking about the actual game.
Oh, one little bit of information I should have probably given you sooner. Sarah and Emily play a lot of cornhole. And they play it very well.
I, on the other hand ...
Well, I found out pretty quickly during our first match on Saturday that I stink. Not only was I missing the small hole on the board that I was aiming at, but I was quite often missing the board entirely. With every bag of corn I let fly, you could see a small part of Shaun’s spirit die with it.
Because of Shaun’s competence, we ended up winning two games and losing two games in the double-elimination format. We didn’t face Emily and Sarah in our brief stay in the tournament, but they weren’t going to let that stop them from getting their pound of flesh. The four of us set up for the grudge match at the far end of where the tournament was still being played, and I was still chirping.
“You ladies sure you want to get humiliated in front of all these people,” I asked.
“Bring it on,” they said in unison.
Well, they brought it. We, unfortunately, did not. The game itself was a blur. I vaguely remember Sarah and Emily tossing cornbag after cornbag into the hole, and me tossing a cornbag at Emily at one point. Before I knew what was happening, we had lost 22-5, and Emily and Sarah were demanding that Shaun and I get on our knees and publically profess their superiority over us.
We did. And then I grabbed a cold beer to wash down all that crow I was forced to eat.
Kids, let this be a lesson to you. Don’t run your mouth about something you know nothing about — and definitely don’t do it to Sarah and Emily. They will shut it in a hurry.