Left Bench

I’m not a quitter.

This is the only thing holding me back from quitting the sport I have played for over 12 years. Combine a coach who hardly knows you’re there, no playing time, and teammates who are under the impression that you don’t care: get an emotionally unstable girl who is starting to think she really “isn’t good enough to play.”  In reality, I’m at almost every practice, working hard to earn a spot on the field; I go to nearly every game, despite the fact that I played less than a 40-minute half the entire season; I express my distress daily, wondering why I am undeserving of using my talents to better the team.

It’s not hard to tell that there is a clear distinction between who starts and who rarely plays on my team. Despite age, performance, or skill level, the girls who started since the first scrimmage at practice will start every single game following. They are the preconceived team, the team that is supposedly superior to any other configuration of players. The others don’t even get a chance to prove themselves, and the injustice of it kills me.

I sit firmly rooted to the bench, becoming numb from the cold, knowing I can benefit the team, feeling more emotional pain with each ticking minute. The feeling that I’m not trusted to do my job because I’m not good enough is such a blow to my morale. Although I know bias is a factor in my perpetual benching, it still makes my heart sink when, at the end of the game, I am the only one who was never put in.

I never knew the absence of words could break down my confidence so swiftly. I’ve never liked attention, but feeling unjustly invisible is dehumanizing. It’s like one of those dreams where no matter how hard you try to run from an attacker, your legs refuse to budge. I, no doubt, deserve to be treated equally, but I am a hindrance more than an asset; as a player, I am bound to an inescapable prison of bias.

Every circumstance is screaming at me to quit; it takes endurance to go to every practice with dread, every game knowing I am sacrificing sleep to be there. Although it may seem trivial, this experience has been the most mentally strenuous one of my life. Inexplicable injustice is the most potent weapon: it creeps into the cracks of confidence, transforming truth into synthetically-evidenced opinion.

I could simply end this–I joined the team voluntarily–but I’m not a quitter.