My middle sister is awesome. For our purposes here, let's call her 'A'. She's a smart, kind,fun person. But I submit to you today that she is a thief. A thief ofmy athletic ability.

You see, I have absolutely, positively nosports skills whatsoever. I am god awful at any and every sport everinvented. The only sport I am even good at is baseball. I think if you were to hand me a football, I would spontaneously vomit.

Mysister, however, is supremely talented at sports. As far as I can tell,she can play literally every single sport with supernatural ease andgrace. She was blessed with the athletic ability of at least threeaverage people.

Three people! You'll understand why I suspect she stole our skills, then, when I tell you that my one sister is just as deplorable at athletics as I am. (But a wonderful person, nonetheless.)

'A'somehow stole our skills. She took whatever chance we had at beingnormal and hoarded it all for herself. She was a four-year starter onher basketball team in high school. They easily went undefeated intheir league and won the state championship her senior year. And thiswasn't no weak-ass state like Delaware or Nebraska. THIS WAS CALIFORNIA!

I,meanwhile, somehow managed to earn our cross-country team's 'MostImproved' award three years running. (We, by the way, were the worstteam in the league.)

'A' went on to play Division I collegeball, where in her Junior year the team won the Patriot League (a minorleague, admittedly, but what have ever done?).

Whatmade 'A' such a basketball ace? Was it genetics? No. A goal-driven,competitive home life? No. Was it wizardry and magic used to drainwhatever natural talent might have been bestowed on me? Probably.

Iremember being on my town's CYO basketball team when I was in fourthgrade. If you've ever played youth basketball, you probably recall the'A' team and the 'B' team. The A's were stars and the B's wereeverybody else. But I wasn't on either of those.

Do you recall the 'C' team? Probably not, since not many towns had them. My town did. Thank God I wasn't on that one.

No,no. I was on the 'D' team. Ever heard of it? If you say yes, you'reeither a liar or you were one of the nine other kids on the team withme.

We were a team so definitively bad that there never was before and never will be again another 'D' team.

Wewere a ragtag group of shapeless, weak misfits, the kind Emilio Estevezwould turn into a bunch of winners if this were a feel good familyfilm. But we had no 'rise-to-glory' storyline leading us to victory over Iceland; we had only weekendafter weekend of crushing defeat.

We were ten boys whoconsistently lost to every team we faced. We regularly lost to girlsteam. It happened so often it eventually stopped being humiliating.

Therewas a retarded kid on my team. Let's call him 'M.' Now, I knowfourth-graders will call anyone who's different 'retarded'. The kid whowore mismatched socks? Retarded. The kid whose parents didn't havecable? Retarded. Hell, I got called retarded for four years because Ibought "Magic the Gathering" cards .

'M,'however, was the more classical description of retarded. Learningdisabilities, total lack of coordination, emotional and psychologicalimpairment. Real 'D' team material. And we his teammates, being thehorrible little snots we were, took advantage of his fragile statewhenever we could.

Imagine an elementary-school gymnasium. Thereare the two main basketball hoops at either end of the court, but alongthe sides are auxiliary hoops that can be raised or lowered so morekids can practice at once. Someone (me?) convinced 'M' that those hoopswere bonus hoops worth three points.

When he would shoot at themin games, believing he was a hero to our constantly-losing team, he didso with such horrible aim, such utter lack of precision and control,that it looked as though he were intentionally hurling the ball at thespectators in the stands.

If we were to get extra points everytime the other team's parents were frightened that a kid with severelearning disabilities was trying to injure them, we would have made itto the playoffs. We could have gone all the way.

I write thisanecdote now not to gloat about how mean someone (me?) was to a kid whoobviously had it bad enough as it was, but rather to illustrate howrotten yours truly is at basketball. 'M' STARTED ABOVE ME IN THE LINEUP.

Thecoach would have rather endangered the crowd's welfare than put me inthe game. He thought to himself 'Do I want 'M,' the kid who literallycannot tie his own shoes, or do I want Tony?' and he didn't choose me.

During the yearall this was happening, my sister 'A' was playing and excelling ontraveling soccer, softball, and basketball teams simultaneously.Coincidence? I think not.