Being a trained athlete prepares you mentally for losing. When one is prepared mentally for losing--whether it be your shit; your sex drive; your eyesight; hair; fortune; sense of compassion; interest in what other people are trying to say; your favorite socks; years to alcohol and drug abuse; confidence in your ability to find your way out of the forest without losing your toes, fingers, ears, nose, and dick to frostbite after losing your map--one can more easily manage the resulting shame spiral that arises from knowing deep down inside that you suck. There is, therefore, nothing one can do mentally to prepare oneself for losing, because losing is secretive and seductive. It comes upon you like the gentle breath of a lover that carries a deadly flu virus.

Something that is as fascinating and strange as the previous paragraph, if not more so, is a game that was described to me by a refugee who lives in my building (whose name I cannot pronounce much less spell). It's called "Buskashi." The refugee immigrant says he's from Afghanistan (although he looks sort of Mexican) and that Buskashi is played mostly in northern Afghanistan. In his description I could decipher only this: There are hundreds of men who ride around on horses beating the shit out of each other and their horses while trying to maintain possession of a goat with no head.

Godammit! Is it any wonder that we civilized Americans have such a hard time understanding those people and their sports? Dude, is there some reason you can't just play tennis?

A little research proved the refugee wasn't lying, like he does when he tells me he's fasting for Ramadan and I find him in the parking lot with a pint of Gatorade and a Clif Bar. There really is a sport called Buskashi, and it does involve a headless goat. Why would anyone think it's an accomplishment to carry a headless, bloody goat across a goal line, and why would anyone else want to stop that person from doing so? The refugee said, "I've never seen it played because the Taliban broke all our televisions so that we wouldn't watch pornography."

In a related story, the NBA season started recently.