I can’t recall the exact first time that I watched basketball, but what I do remember is that I was bored.

It had to have been when I was younger, when the only things that kept my attention were Legos, Pokemon and trying to put a hat on my cat. But when I was in high school, I began watching my high school basketball team’s games.

They would be right after soccer practice, and lots of my fellow students would go watch.

Contrary to my initial viewing of basketball, watching it live with a group of fans that I more-or-less knew made the situation electric and fun. From there, I became not only an avid fan of my high school team but also started to watch and follow the NBA.

If I told 12-year-old me that I would become a regular observer of basketball, he probably would have called me a really mean name and made fun of my hair.

Yet my new-found appreciation for basketball is something I enjoy. Had I not begun following the game I initially wrote off, I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend just how incredible a player LeBron James is or how exciting basketball games can be.

This happened organically. I didn’t come to enjoy the game because a friend or family member forced me to watch games every weekend, I myself found a connection and fondness of a new sport.I would have been very hesitant to like basketball if someone had forced it on me. My father never forced me to watch football or soccer games: I was introduced organically to these games, and from there, my love for them grew.

Organically finding the sports I love is why they have stuck with me throughout the years.

I wouldn’t wake up at 6:15 a.m. on Saturday mornings to watch my wonderful Toffees get annihilated 5–0 if I hadn’t created my love for them.Finding sports or teams by one’s own means is how loyalty and a lasting bond is achieved.On the other side of this, being forced to watch a game or to play one can have the opposite affect. It can make you dislike the sport or grow tired of it.

Being forced to do anything makes me question whether I will like it even before I’ve tried it. I would have disliked any sport my parents had forced me to play or watch it. I was lucky enough to be able to find the sports I still follow on my own. Many of my friends back home were pushed into swimming, soccer or baseball and — after a couple years — they burned out. They would grow tired of going to practice or lose interest altogether then quit, never to touch the sport again. But they stuck to the sports they choose on their own.

My friend Gabe was forced to play soccer all of his life, but the sport that really stuck with him was esports, a sport he still participates in today.

He follows esports because it wasn’t forced on him. Esports is what made us great friends and what got him a full ride scholarship for college.

His love and passion for it was separate from his parents or what his coaches told him: it was all his own.

Finding your passion and interests is a vital part in growing up and becoming who you want to be.

While I have yet to fully do this, I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to find what sports and hobbies interest me.

Because of that, they have stuck with me and helped mold me into what I am today. Esports is what helped my friend Gabe get to the place he is today, as he goes to school essentially for choosing to play video games all the time (a dream I sadly won’t fulfill).

Choosing for yourself what you like and love is, in my opinion, the most important part of becoming who you want to be.

While I don’t know how my love for basketball helps in this process, I do know above all else that I need to trust the process.

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