Sunday, August 28, 2005

Racquetball Diaries-III

Although it is banal to say so, I cannot help but note that racquetball is a game with rules.

Score 15 points before the other guy, and you win the game; win two out of three games, and you win the match; short serves don't count; long serves don't count; somewhat less well known, three-walled serves don't count either; each player is required to give his opponent enough room for a clear shot, etc. And then there is perhaps the most important rule of all: you must hit the front wall with your shot before your ball hits the floor. This last is the cardinal rule of racquetball, the first among equals, at least as regards the formal rules of the game.

The game of racquetball, however, is rarely decided by the application of these largely technical rules. No, the games that count are most often decided by the rules buried in the human heart, the rules of right and wrong, the rules each of us are born with, and know instinctively.

For instance, at the top level of the game, an "A" player can hit a drive serve as fast as 125 miles per hour. The ball is almost a blur, and in most cases is less than an inch in bounds, or "good." As another example, because the court is fairly narrow, there is, in any given match, any number of chances one has to hit one's opponent with the ball, or to hinder one's opponent from a kill shot. In each of these instances, a player is at the mercy of his opponent, or more precisely, that opponent's sense of fair play.

When down in the match, perhaps with a beer or something more on the line if you lose, it is tempting to call a ball short when it is good. It is tempting to drill somebody in the back of the leg and use a break in the action to catch your breath. The only thing that makes a racquetball game go is that most players do not routinely do this.

Why not, you ask?

Something in their hearts tells them it is just not right to play the game that way.