We get paid money to play a game. A game that many people enjoy at a company picnic or during a visit to the beach or the park. Our version of the game of volleyball is a little different than the picnic version. In our game, the ball travels over 90 miles an hour, and two adult men must cover every inch of the court. Normal people suck air and get screaming muscles just trying to walk in fine beach sand that collapses under their weight and seems to hold onto their ankles like quicksand. We jump up and down in this stuff and try to smash a ball over a net that towers eight feet above the sand, while on the other side lurks the opponent, just as tall and strong and experienced as us, ready to use every physical resource he has to try and slam the ball right back in our faces—the harder the better. That’s the way we play.
We can measure our careers in lacerations, scar tissue, and broken fingers—some ours, some inflicted on others. Our game is so intense that one can see veins popping on foreheads, neck muscles straining, and bodies stretching to the absolute physical limits. Each play is accented by primal screams of pain or exertion. We have played on beach sand baked so hot by the sun that blisters form on the fleshy underside of our toes, and yet we keep on playing. Sometimes they break and bleed, sometimes they don’t. Either way we keep on playing.