Sports’ most difficult tasks

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

Finally, after numerous postponements, the Jackrabbit softball team played at home. Doing my due diligence as sports editor, I attended the team’s two doubleheaders on April 20 and 21. Sitting in the stands, watching the Jacks struggle to make contact with the ball and praying a ball didn’t wander over the fence in my direction, I started thinking how truly difficult it is to hit a softball hurling toward you from 43 feet away at 60 miles per hour.

I imagine that it would be damn near impossible for me to hit a rise ball off SDSU pitcher Jenna Marston. As we learned last week, I do not do well with softballs zooming toward me at alarming velocities. If I were to step to bat against Marston, I would probably need a diaper to go along with my helmet.

Realizing my likely ineptitude in hitting a ball off Marston got me thinking about other sporting activities that are incredibly difficult. Hitting a fast-pitch softball would be toward the top of the list, but what else?

Hitting a major league curveball or fastball is generally considered to be the hardest thing to do. Connecting with a little ball defying physics, bolting toward the plate at 99 mph, with a little stick is not an easy task.

In softball or baseball, a .300 average is considered good. Think about that. Professionals can fail seven out of ten times and still be considered the best at what they do. In comparison, if an NBA player shoots 30 percent from the floor, he will not play in the league very long.

Another incredibly difficult accomplishment is hitting a golf ball straight for 300 yards. Hell, just hitting the damn ball straight, even 50 yards, is an achievement for me. The PGA tour keeps track of driving accuracy, or fairways hit. Obviously, if hitting a ball straight was that easy, keeping track of how often golfers hit the ball in the fairway would be silly.

Returning a serve by a top professional tennis player is challenging. A fuzzy little green ball hurling toward you at 150 mph with nothing but a racket to protect you is scary. Throw in some spin, and you might as well just close your eyes and pray, because you ain’t returning that serve. And if you did manage to get your racket on the ball, you’ll need the strength of Hercules to hold onto your only means of protection.

Football offers a host of difficult activities, the least of which is not dying when a 350 pound behemoth of a man hits you with all his might. But I think the most difficult, regular occurrence in football is catching a 5-10 yard slant. Quarterbacks fire the ball so bloody hard, it is ridiculous. Receivers occasionally break fingers in practice because the quarterback rifles the ball in their direction from 15 feet away.

With the variety of events track and field offers, a host of near super-human feats can be witnessed. In the running events, the four-minute mile is astonishing. For years, it was debated and believed that the four-minute mile could not be done. The four-minute mile is insanely fast, averaging 15 mph for 5,280 feet. Running that speed for that distance is unfathomable to me.

Also, I am in awe of high-jumpers. They clear ridiculous heights. But what is truly amazing is how the best jumpers will clear close to a foot higher than their own height. Think about how tall you are, and then think about using nothing but your own body to clear something a foot higher than that. Insane.

Now, I love sitting and watching sports, but I rarely stop to think about and appreciate the skill athletes display. We sit in the bleachers or on our couches, yelling and screaming about how the athletes should be doing better. But in reality, the vast majority of us would fail miserably if we attempted to do what athletes do. So, I encourage all of you to take a minute and think about how difficult it is to hit a 99 mph fastball, hit a golf ball straight or run 15 mph for a mile, and then marvel at how truly gifted athletes are.

#1.883398:2207854054.jpg:ball_talk.jpg:Brian Kimmes, Ball Talk: