Every minor-minor sport has getting-ready games, the play of which invariably scars, frustrates and humiliates the player. Getting-ready rules are as vague as a Sibylline prophecy. Beginners often do not see getting-ready games or regard what they do see as inconsequential. Experienced players do not tell new players how to play or even what is being played. Veterans take misery-loves-company pleasure in watching a rookie fall on his face. Getting-ready games are addictive. Since this play has no proper beginning, ending or scoring system, a player who once commences is in mortal peril of never quitting.
Mastery of these fundamentals gives a player a tremendous initial advantage in all getting-ready games. For example, assume that in the current issue of Actual Factual, The Magazine of Reality for Men, there is an essay, How I Hunt Deer with a Cheetah. The subtitle is "Little Known Thrill Sport." The novice minor sport who is inflamed by this article immediately begins to contemplate the distant Everest, the exaltation he will experience in company with his hunting cheetah. This, after all, is all that the article describes. Inevitably, adopting this approach, the beginner will end up being treated for either cheetah bites or paranoia.
The veteran left-fielder who reads and is equally stirred by this piece will resolutely refuse to think about the ultimate objective, hunting with a cheetah. He will begin dispassionately to examine the proposition in terms of getting-ready play. The subtitle "Little Known" indicates that he is dealing with a legitimate minor-minor sport. The nouns and pronouns, "I," "cheetah," "deer," hint at a series of fierce cooperative getting-ready games. How, for example, do he, a cheetah and a deer meet, and how does each learn his proper role? How and where do cheetahs occupy themselves when not hunting deer? Do cheetahs get carsick? State Police and cheetahs? Expertly the veteran identifies the obvious getting-ready games of this minor-minor: Safari Play, Cheetah Crating, Worms and Cheetahs, Knitting (cheetahs wear red stocking caps during their training period), Cocker Spaniel Dodge, Managing a Deer Herd, Hide the Cheetah, and Seek the Cheetah.
The canny veteran now assumes the classic first position of getting-ready play. Physically, intellectually and spiritually, he extends his hands and gropes forward as though working without a lamp in a deserted mine shaft. It is an awkward stance, and proceeding in this manner it may take a decade before he becomes a Cheetah Hunter. However, this is the only position which can be recommended. Such a posture gives the minor-minor sport at least a fighting chance of reaching his objective without being mangled in the hard getting-ready play that inevitably awaits him.