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Can't Compete Without Accepting Defeat | Gimme Schalter No. 17

Gimme Schalter
Can't Compete Without Accepting Defeat | Gimme Schalter No. 17
By Ty Schalter • Issue #17 • View online
My son and I walked into the gym 17 minutes early, and froze. Out on the gleaming blue court were a bunch of ripped dudes in workout clothes and pinnies, playing a game like soccer but about a zillion times faster.
In the middle of it all was the guy who’d invited us to drop in: Jeremy Klepal, member of the U.S. men’s national futsal team. A few months ago, he was representing our country in the FIFA Futsal World Cup–a competition we hadn’t even qualified for since 2008. Now, my son and I were watching him run the floor with nine other guys we couldn’t hope to compete with.

CFC 2021 | United States vs Guatemala
CFC 2021 | United States vs Guatemala
ADHD and anxiety make for a terrifying cocktail in situations like these. Impostor sydrome, rejection-sensitive dysphoria, and just plain old freaking out make you hyper-aware of everything you might be doing wrong. Am I in the right place? He said 9:00, right? Are we late? Is it ending at 9:00? Is this really drop-in? Why’d he encourage my son–after trying out for the sixteen-and-under academy squad having never played futsal before–to come here, bring me along, and get our feet wet with the sport when the level of competition is this high?
All the 82 million different ways I might be doing it wrong, obviously out of place, not belonging were pinging around my head even faster than that weird little not-quite-soccer ball. It’s the same sensation I got 25 years ago, when I was my son’s age, and I decided to go out for the football team: I set one foot in the door, saw all the guys who’d bullied or teased me my whole childhood, thought “I don’t belong here,” and walked out.
It wasn’t until my senior year I found out the football team was no-cuts; anybody who wanted to be on the team got to be on the team.
The funny thing about all this is that I am a performer. I’m outgoing as hell. I’m confident as shit. Given almost any new activity, task, situation, hobby or pursuit that catches my interest, I think “I’d be good at that”–and I’m usually right. When my enormous, globe-striding ego collides with my paralyzing, self-TASER-ing levels of anxiety, even I’m never quite sure how I’ll react.
But the years between my son’s age and my own have taught me that showing up wins, doing the thing is what separates you from those who didn’t, and the only way to win is to be willing to lose:
Garfunkel & Oates "Loser"
Garfunkel & Oates "Loser"
So we watched, stretched, fretted, took it on faith that whenever whatever was going to happen at 9:00 happened, it wasn’t going to involve us jumping into that group and trying to hang. Eventually someone else walked in. And then another. And then a couple more.
It turns out that the players on the floor were literal pros: The Lansing City Futsal team, preparing for the next night’s season opener (tonight, as this issue goes out). A few of the team members did end up sticking around for drop-in, and by the time we kind of awkwardly Did As The Romans Did with stretching and warmups, there was just enough players for two teams.
We were outclassed; everyone there had played years of futsal. We were overmatched; futsal requires a lot more all-out sprinting than soccer (especially when you’re constantly out of position because you have no idea what you’re doing). After the first match with ad-hoc teams, we twice endured the painful playground ritual of first captain, second captain; both times the two of us were the last two picked.
But we had great moments: My son had a couple of nice assists and several great shots that went just wide, and I put in the most perfectly lofted cross I’ve ever struck (or, frankly, might ever strike). I was hoping to get it in the vicinity of one of the pros, and I put it right on his forehead. The goalie managed to get just enough of it to keep it out of the goal, but my would-be assist partner–one of the pros–raved about what a great pass it had been.
By the end, I was completely gassed. We drove home, wiped, at 10:30, with both of us having to get up to get him to school the next day (where his first hour is “Weight Training & Conditioning,” RIP). He’s signed up for some of the club’s clinics; I’m shopping for my own set of futsal shoes. We’re going to keep going to drop-in, and we’re going to keep getting better. My son can look up to
You are such a loser, good for you
It’s something that a lot of people can’t do
Trying is hard, that’s why people don’t do it
Losing is hard, they can’t make it through it
But not you
ANNOUNCING: Live on HALFTIME!
I’m thrilled to be able to announce that me and my Three & Out co-hosts are starting a live Monday night show on HALFTIME, a fast-growing sports content app!
We’ll go from 9:00 pm ET to 10:00, a little ways into Monday Night Football each week. You can second-screen with us as we talk about big NFL topics and react to the football as it happens. It’ll be just like the Manningcast–except with three sports-media pros who regularly do broadcast work together, and actually plan content ahead of time!
Oh, and instead of celebrity guests who are even less well-prepared, YOU can jump in and ask us live questions (either via text chat, or with your actual human voice)!
Download Halftime, check out all the posts and content on there, and get ready for a great time on Monday night. And while you’re checking out Three & Out, you might as well go and subscribe, because our 100th-episode blowout will be this week’s mid-week Big Show–and we have some truly BIG guests lined up.
Everything Awesome
Anyone who’s ever done any kind of reporting knows the pain of speaking to a great, knowledgable source and then having them toss off a casual, “Oh by the way, this is all off the record.”
Uh, no it’s not.
As much as media literacy is a problem for people who consume news, it’s also a problem for people who make news. And it’s even worse in some sub-sectors like sports and tech, because subjects (and/or their handlers) often expect enthusiastic coverage. Expect journalists to be partners in their efforts to spread their message. Expect the news media to do their PR for them.
Patel lays out many of the ridiculous requests for on-background or off-the-record sourcing that tech companies have requested of The Verge, up to and including paid PR spokespeople sending them a link to to the company’s public website.
Gizmodo editor Andrew Couts quote-tweeted the article with a fantastic thread of his own; I join Couts in congratulating The Verge for taking a stand here, and every news editor everywhere should think hard about doing the same.
…and here’s why tech and video-game companies have increasingly insisted journalists do their PR work for them: Influencers and streamers eagerly sign up for it.
I can’t fault streamer Lyndsay Elyse for loving this incredible Shin-Ra SOLDIER Candidate welcome kit she was sent; it’s absolutely sick:
lindsay elyse
Ok, this is one of the coolest boxes I've ever seen! Started off with a welcome video from Shinra, then was presented with everything I need to be a SOLDIER - even business cards! Thank you @FFVII_FS_EN - I CANNOT wait to pour all of my time into The First Soldier! 🤩 #FF7FS https://t.co/oDu50r55i2
And I can’t blame Square for getting influential streamers to delightedly proclaim they “can’t wait to pour all of [their] time” into their new mobile game! But in sports, tech, and yes even in video games, there is a public hunger for information and analysis of the topic that doesn’t come pre-approved from the people who make money off the topic.
When I started writing about football, team websites were janky affairs often built from a league-wide template. My friend Matt Terl was the very first official blogger of an NFL team (Washington Football Team); now every team has its own in-house media department with writers, editors, producers, reporters and broadcast talent.
While many of those operations do fine work, at the end of the day people still have an appetite for real journalism. And as distressingly comfortable as GenZers are with trading money, access, and swag for performative enthusiasm, they’re also still ultimately reading outlets like The Verge and Gizmodo.
Remember that bit I said about being a “performer”? I meant that in the broad sense, but also in the specific: My wife and I met and fell in love on the set of a high-school musical, we’re very much plugged in to the local theatre scene, and I still do a show every couple-three years.
I have done the weird acting-lesson activities, the physical and vocal warmups, and the directed exploratory play Green writes so vibrantly about. However, I haven’t pursued anywhere near the level of training that Green has in either acting or writing.
So it was fascinating to hear her compare and contrast the two different ways two different creative modes I love are taught at the post-gradate level–and instructive to realize I’d love to take more acting classes but have absolutely no use for a writing MFA.
Last week, I went off on Aaron Rodgers’s apparent foolishness about 42 minutes before he opened his mouth and removed all doubt.
This week one of my longtime favorites, The Root senior writer Michael Harriot, took Rodgers down in a brilliant and singular way. But I don’t need to sell this piece to you, because it sells itself.
Here’s the lede:
Dear Aaron Rodgers,
I bring you greetings in the name of our collective of citizens Working Overtime to Keep Entitled Motherfuckers Off that Bullshit (WOKEMOB).
#TyNoWriPro
On Thursday, I cracked the daily #NaNoWriMo word-count goal of 1,667 for the very first time…on Day 11 of #NaNoWriMo.
Since that just about doubled my word count, I now have roughly two days’ worth of words written of my new YA fantasy codenamed “A&A.” On Day 12. That puts me on track to reach NaNo’s default end-of-November goal of 50,000 words by May 2, and my actual goal of 80,000ish words by August 14.
Sheesh.
But this weekend is my last of refereeing soccer for the fall, and I’ve finally gotten into a good groove with my #content game. I expect days 12-22 to be a lot more productive than days 1-11 were.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Ty Schalter

The latest thoughts, hottest takes, and coolest work of Ty Schalter, a professional writer & talker (@FiveThirtyEight, @ThreeOutPod). Lots of sports, geeky stuff, social commentary and more.

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