So What’s Your Favorite Excuse?

The author crosses the finish line in the OC-1 state championship race -- lots of excuses that day

We all make excuses. It’s human nature. Athletes are excuse experts, and competition often brings out the best … excuses. You hear them on the courts, the fields of play and even in the ocean. Ask any canoe paddler about excuses and they’ll chuckle because they’ve either delivered their share or heard them.

The subject has been an ongoing topic on paddler message boards for several weeks now. “Why were you so slow today?”

The different excuses shared by paddlers across the globe are downright imaginative.

Here are some of my favorites:

1) I worked out at the gym earlier this morning.
2) I just got over a cold.
3) I gave blood today.
4) A whale got in my way.
5) I’ve got a hangover.
6) I had a cramp in my ____ (fill in the blank).
7) I thought I saw a mermaid (see No. 5).
8] My wife and I just had a baby and I didn’t sleep last night.
9) I didn’t know we were racing.
10) I thought your ego needed a boost.

And here are my top 10 excuses that I’m ashamed to say I’ve used:

1) This is the first time I’ve used this paddle/canoe.
2) I must have a hole in my canoe because it was taking on a ton of water.
3) My kids kept me up all night.
4) I shouldn’t have eaten that plate lunch; the macaroni salad slowed me down.
5) I haven’t trained in months.
6) Work has me stressed out. I couldn’t concentrate.
7) I had to stop because I got tangled in a fishing boat’s line (I swear it happened).
8] I can’t paddle without chewing gum and I didn’t have my gum.
9) I was going 70 percent today because I’m overtraining.
10) I was working on my paddling technique.

Benjamin Franklin wrote, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Excuses can be harmless but at the same time harmful. We all enjoy taking credit for our accomplishments and victories, but we can’t forget about taking responsibility for our failures and losses.

When we make excuses and repeat them, people start believing them, and after awhile we start believing them, too. A little dose of the “blame game” never hurt anyone, but too much of it will ultimately hurt you.

And it’s healthy to accept defeat; it allows us to grow.

It’s something I’ll remember as I prepare for my race this weekend, which frankly I’m a little concerned about how well I’ll do. You see, my son has this nagging cough and I haven’t slept a wink all week and …

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