Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Volleyball as Life Work Metaphor

I knew the metaphors were there from the beginning, but I was too busy trying to pick up any scrap of volleyball technique, seeing as how I started with none. However, I had the misfortune of coworkers Behaving Very Badly over the past week, and such experiences tend to take a big yellow highlighter to life's metaphors.

In volleyball, we rotate positions. Whenever the serve comes back to your team, everyone moves one position clockwise, affording new possibilities and perspectives. Everyone gets to set, serve, and play all the other places, as well. Maybe some suit us better than others. Maybe different players have different styles in different roles. It's important not to be come too attached to any one position, to enjoy all of them, and to try your best no matter where you're standing, flexible but staying secure in the knowledge that you'll return to your most natural fit eventually.

It's also important to remember that we play as a team, not a bunch of individuals competing with each other to be the Best One. We win or lose as a team. Likewise, it's important to allow your teammates to play their positions. Do not run over to get the ball because you think the setter isn't doing it right. The setter is playing just fine, and where you're standing, you're seeing the ball from a different perspective. The setter is, in fact, known for being a great player. If you keep running up and knocking over the setter, no one will get the ball, you control freak. And eventually, the setter will get sick of it and ask the rest of the team, and if necessary, the coach, for help in this matter. The coach will step in to put you in your place, the team will support the setter, and you may make snide comments in the stairwell or, er, locker room--yeah, locker room--but the setter has won and doesn't care. We'll all rotate anyway, so you'll have a chance to be in charge again soon enough.

And also? Dear inept player who everyone knows is inept and I have been defending as simply "new": You bitch. Come on, now. You cannot blame the setter for not getting the ball when you never passed it to her. And you're known to be inept, so who will everyone believe? Please do not bring the control freak into this to take your side, either.

Fortunately, I know we all rotate, which means I'll remain professional through this nonsense. But there's a funny thing about v-ball: If you treat a player badly, watch your back when the teams are shuffled next time and she's serving against you. HAHAHAHA

Note: I allow a world of difference between people who accidentally step into the wrong position because of lack of skill versus those who do so willfully.

PS Got your own sporting metaphor? Please share!


kStyle said...

Of my extended metaphor, G. says, "Maybe they think they're playing singles tennis when they're really playing six-person volleyball." Is it any wonder I love this man?

Narya said...

Depends on whether you think of yoga as a "sport" or "life." (Can life be a metaphor for itself?) Because that whole pain thing I was babbling about is useful, too.

Larry Jones said...

I love your metaphor! I don't know if other sports lend themselves so neatly, but you've got me thinking.

kStyle said...

Narya: Yoga sure lends itself to metaphors, whatever it is.

Larry: I feel like there were a million and one baseball metaphors beloved by old-time hardscrabble reporters, but I never quite "got" them.