Are we having fun yet?

Effort without enjoyment should prompt serious thinking

“NEVER QUIT. No matter what, you NEVER quit.”

This is not really a specified quote because it is an ubiquitous phrase used tirelessly among coaches in every sport on every level. From tee-ball to the big leagues, this ideal is pounded relentlessly into the heads of athletes like nails into a house. And perhaps rightfully so.

But I think that people, especially coaches, tend to get the word “quit” mixed up with phrases like “lack of effort” or “giving up” when really it does not mean that at all. To quit merely means to cease commitment. So I have a bone to pick with this quitting thing.

Sometimes, it is entirely appropriate to quit. But not always. There is a fine line between quitting nobly and quitting for fear of embarrassment. This line, like so many other “fine lines,” is somewhat ambiguous and not totally concrete in its method of determining what is righteous quitting and what is not. (Like a Magic 8 Ball that always says “try again later” or shows that weird corner between the sayings that won’t go away no matter how hard you shake it).

Therefore, to clear up such befuddlement on the matter, I have developed a “weenie test.” It is exactly what its name implies: a test to determine whether you’re quitting for valid reasons and under honorable circumstances or if you’re just being a weenie.

1. Does your chosen commitment involve intense physical pain that would be less painful if you were in better shape? If no, proceed. If yes, suck it up, ya weenie.

2. Is a particular person causing you unnecessary stress during your chosen commitment? If no, proceed. If yes, then tell them.

3. Are you having fun in your chosen commitment? Is it bringing you the same pleasure it always has? Does it feel new, fresh, and exciting each time you do it? Or are you dragging and slogging your way through it?

If yes, than it’s probably time to quit. Yes, I used the Q word.

I believe people, athletes in particular, face this dilemma more often than they think. We toy with the ideas of changing careers or taking up a new hobby in place of our old ones, but we’re so turned off by the word “quit” that we can’t admit to ourselves that that’s exactly what we want to do.

That word has such a horrifically negative connotation that we deny its passage into our minds. Its principal exists, but we just can’t call it “quitting.” But bottom line, that’s just what you need to do sometimes.

Too often, athletes get caught in a vicious cycle of redundancy. They’re just going through the motions. They aren’t really having fun anymore, but they can’t quit because they’re bound to their sport. Not only are they deeply, whole-heartedly committed to it, but they’re defined by it. They’ve become enslaved to something they once loved.

Not only does this lead to injury and irritability for the athlete, but it also leads to regret. They’ll look back and think what could have been if they’d only mustered up the guts to quit.

There comes a time in our lives where it just isn’t worth it anymore. We all need to quit sometimes. We need a cession of commitment, a breath of fresh air, something that will get our blood flowing, our hearts racing and lives living. Quitting doesn’t sound so taboo now, does it?

Editor’s note: William Blount High School junior Emily Guillaume is not only a multi-sport athlete, the Lady Governor distance runner, volleyball and tennis player is also an accomplished writer. The Accidental Athlete, her thoughts on running and an active lifestyle, appear periodically in Blount Today.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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