Competitive Spirit

by Scott W. Biehl

While growing up I spent a lot of time at my Grandparents home. Yes, they would spoil my sister and I like most loving Grandparents with gifts and treats but the things I loved most was playing catch, having putting contests in the living room, and playing basketball with my “Grandpa.”

My Grandfather had a basketball hoop set up in his backyard and when I would come over we would always play a game of 21. The way it was scored was if you made a basket it was worth 2 points and then you could shoot free throws for 1 point a piece until you missed. My Grandfather who was a professional boxer in his younger days always stayed fit and was in great shape. As I got older, the basketball games became more competitive but he would never just let me win.

Then one day when I was about 12 years old I finally did it! I beat him at a game of 21. After all those years of playing I finally won. Then a couple of days later I called to see if he would be home so I could come by and visit and then took the bus across town to his house to see him. I couldn’t wait to play him again at 21. All those years of losing to him and now I knew I can beat him.

I arrived at his house and was greeted by my Grandmother and asked “where’s Grandpa”? As she turned to point out in the backyard I could see my Grandfather. He was practicing shooting free throws. My 70-year-old Grandfather was practicing shooting free throws. I then went out in the backyard with my confidence of just winning a few days prior, to play a game of 21 with Grandpa.

So, we start to play our usual game of 21 and I make the first basket for 2 points and then make only 1 free throw. My Grandfather then makes a basket and proceeds to make 19 free throws in a row and beats me 21-3. Game over!

I learned a lot of lessons from my Grandfather over the years but none that stand out like the lesson I received in his backyard that day. While he has since passed on, his competitive spirit still lives on through me today. Now I have a 6 year old son of my own and I know that there is a game of 21 in our future and many of life’s lessons to be learned playing it.

© 2003 by Scott W. Biehl. All rights reserved.

Scott Biehl is the General Manager of Mercedes Benz of Fresno.