Team Sports vs Bodybuilding! How a bad experience with team sports forged a bodybuilder

For as long as I can remember I’ve hated organized sports.

I cannot stand watching football, I despise sports talk shows where people scream at each other, and bodybuilding became the product of a child with a bad organized sports experience.

My thing became the gym.

Furthermore, out of shape people yelling at the television over REAL ATHLETES is pretty humorous to me. I often think to myself , “If your fat ass could do better then go play!”


Yes, in a way that’s true! But here’s what many critics do not understand; many of us TRIED TO PLAY REAL SPORTS BUT WE WEREN’T GIVEN MUCH OF AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO SO!

You see, I started playing in a community basketball league when I was around 8 years old. The coach for the team had a daughter on the team, and that coach was friends with some of the parents of the other teammates.

One parent might have been an attorney that the coach could use down the road if need be. Another parent may have owned a restaurant that the coach would frequently take his family to.

I’m just giving you a couple examples here of how organized sports in a small town worked when I was a kid. Winning meant everything, and the coach was such a fucking loser that winning a game meant more to him than helping develop real talent by giving every kid a chance to play.

Was I any good at sports? Hell, I couldn’t even tell you because I never got much of a chance to play in the games.

I can understand wanting to win games at a higher level, but if that’s the case then go coach at a higher fucking level! Don’t ruin someones love for the game when they’re that young, give the damn kids a chance to play!

I played community league basketball for around 5 or 6 years because being involved in a team sport was what I thought boys were “supposed to do.”

That same asshole that was my first coach? I had him for 2 more years after my first year, and then it was on to a different asshole coach. That same scenario happened with the next guy too.

And you know what? I probably wasn’t the most aggressive kid on the team and I wasn’t the best 3 point shooter, but I was at EVERY FUCKING PRACTICE. Then game time would roll around and I might have played 4 minutes in the entire game.

How does a child develop any real talent when they get only 4 minutes of playing time in the game? Simple, they don’t!


A great way to destroy a kids confidence is to not give him any playing time at a young age, until he’s convinced himself that he’s no good. This creates very damaging effects at a young age.

You start wondering why you’re wasting your time showing up for practice 2 hours a day just to sit on the sidelines and watch other kids play the game.

You see grown men yelling and screaming with a beat red face from elevated blood pressure… OVER KIDS PLAYING BASKETBALL.

So what type of damage does this do to a child? Well, I can tell you what it does. You carry it throughout most of your developmental years and desperately try to find ways to fit in, but nothing really works.

You don’t attend high school football games because you’re not cool enough, and you don’t ask girls out on dates because you have zero confidence. A lot of people really don’t even know you exist.

You’re sort of just there, wondering if you’re ever going to be good at anything. Oh yea, having a bad experience with organized sports at a young age FUCKED… ME… UP!


I always loved riding my bike. I loved jumping my bike, riding wheelies, and constantly finding new places to ride. It’s funny because I never worried about how far away something was or how much time it’d take to ride there.

All I knew was that I had a bike and I could get there! So I’d ride my bike, miles and miles, maybe 20 or 30 miles on some days if I had to guess. This also built gigantic calves from all of that peddling.

Then I got into racing mountain bikes and although I wasn’t the best I was pretty decent and I enjoyed it a lot. It was me against me, if I lost a race it wasn’t because of anyone but me!

To this day I still love mountain biking and I try to ride at least once a week. It’s excellent cardio and it’s a lot more stimulating than a treadmill because your mind has to process things quickly, as things are coming at you pretty fast at times!

Then I got into snowboarding and rode a board for several years, competing in boarder-cross events. I was very good at snowboarding and I loved it.

The feeling of constant progression was some sense of accomplishment to me, much more so than those organized team sports I sat the bench with!


So I slowly became sort of an outcast as a teenager. I stuck to my extreme sports and I went through the motions at school, but my social life in high school wasn’t really great. You see, deep down I was still that kid wanting to be “good enough” to play in the game.

I wanted to be “that quarterback” that all the girls knew. I wanted to be the life of the parties. God damnit, people knowing me at parties would have at least been great!

But I had pretty much convinced myself that common social acceptance among my peers wasn’t going to happen.

I didn’t hit on girls, I only talked to girls if they spoke to me first, and I was too afraid to go after what I really wanted.

Look, this isn’t the easiest post to write or admit to, but it’s the guy I used to be and I’m just being honest with you guys.


For some damn reason I decided to come up with this image in my mind of what I truly wanted to be. What could an adolescent teen do with his own hands to become something great?

I decided to push life back one night on the floor of my bedroom. I began doing push-ups, a lot of them. I did them every motherfucking evening after that first night, pissed off at not feeling like I mattered.

I would struggle to get that last push-up and I’d think of that asshole coach and bust another 8 push-ups beyond what I thought was true failure!

I began doing curls and overhead presses every night. I did my sit-ups every night. That bedroom became a place where nobody saw me and a place where I could go to work each evening trying to become someone that I THOUGHT WOULD BE COOL!


From that point forward, I began trying to be the person that I WANTED TO BE!  

I had a cheap set of plastic, sand filled weights in my bedroom. I had a stereo cassette player. I had a wooden chair. That was my gym. But I had the drive and determination and there was nothing that was going to stop me from going further with it!

I still remember those workouts like they were yesterday. Metallica’s very first album would play over and over again in that bedroom since it was one of the few cassette tapes that I owned.

I’d drop down on that floor and get ready for that next set… the Metallica cranking… let’s go!

Scanning the scene in the city TO-NIGHT,

we’re looking for you to start up THE FIGHT,

there’s an evil feeling in our brains but it’s nothing new, YOU KNOW IT DRIVES US INSANE,



And damnit, seek and destroy was what I set out to do with my workouts once I got into the rhythm!


I wished I had realized this a long time ago, but there isn’t anything wrong with not doing what everyone else is doing. So everyone played organized sports and I didn’t, who cares?

So everyone needed to go to school dances and parties and I stayed home and lifted weights instead, who cares?

You see, looking back on things I realize that most people had their glory days for a few years and then quickly grew up and became your boring, everyday living, miserable fucks!

I felt like all the good parts of my life really didn’t start for me until I developed my body and had finished school. When you’re going through all of the struggle and sweat and discipline to build muscle, your character becomes a product of that work!

It’s like this mentality of finally knowing what you’re capable of and what your worth really is. It’s really an eye opener for a lot of people.

I have met so many people in the gym over the years who were always square pegs trying to fit into round holes. They had similar backgrounds and the gym had became their escape from reality. The gym created a new reality for them! They were a lot like myself.

This is cool, it makes you realize that you’re not alone. If you have a backstory that motivated you to work out, someone else has a backstory too!

And I see all of these people in the gyms and in bodybuilding who don’t share the camaraderie that should be shared. I don’t think the majority of people that exist are bad people, I think at the end of the day everyone just wants to feel heard and known for something.

The gym is a way to be heard and known for something. Not to sound like an arrogant prick, but if you’re a big fucker then you feel like some sort of celebrity sometimes.

You will be out someplace and all of a sudden someone says “Aren’t you the guy that works out over off main street in that one gym?”

You don’t even know the guy, but he knows who you are! You go from once being a person that felt like nobody knew they existed, to being a person that people ask questions about and talk to. That’s a nice feeling sometimes.

But here is the deal with that; stay humble about it. Don’t ignore people, don’t discredit their accomplishments simply because it’s not something that INTERESTS YOU.

Maybe building computers is what someone else is good at. Isn’t that a great skill that took years of learning to get good at?

Maybe someone is a great wood worker and that is their passion in life. That is definitely respectable to me. Just because fitness is my thing and not someone else’s doesn’t mean that person’s interests don’t matter.

And hey, if team sports is your thing then more power to you. I’m not knocking organized sports and they take a hell of a lot of practice and talent! I myself just had a bad experience with them at a young age.

Bodybuilding in part was trying to become someone I wanted to be, and in part it was trying to find a way to say to everyone ,”Do you see me now? Am I good enough now?” Honestly, this mentality carried on with me for a very long time after high school.


I know it’s easy to want to laugh at certain people doing silly looking things in the gym. I’m guilty of it myself from time to time. But the truth of the matter is, we never know why that person is in that gym.

I think if you got a serious answer out of a lot of people you’d find out that we are all trying to work through more than just building muscles.

Some are trying to get through something painful in life such as the loss of a loved one. Others are finding a way to break a terrible drug or alcohol addiction that has destroyed their life and they’re trying to pick up the pieces and start over.

Some people don’t know what they’re doing in the gym, but do you know what? At least they’re doing something! You just learn as you go, and when you want to learn more you absorb even more as you go!

So this is just my own story. People always want to say things like ,”He only lifts weights because he couldn’t play sports or catch a football.”

They’re right. I couldn’t do those things well, maybe I could have if I was given more playing time as a child who should have been allowed to play the game and have fun.

But none of that matters anymore because I used bodybuilding to rise above that kind of shit, develop good confidence, and feel like a winner on a regular basis.

I have good days and bad days like everyone else. But one thing is for certain, whether it’s a good day or a bad day, I’m still in the gym!

I’m still that kid blasting out push-ups, cranking the metal music, and trying to be someone that I like. Fuck what everyone else thinks I should be doing, I’m going to do what I want to do and damnit I’m going to take it!

So that’s my story, what’s yours? -JD

If you enjoyed reading this story and would like to hear more about how bodybuilding helped me transform my life then you may want to read Becoming the Bull

Becoming The Bull ebook

Becoming the Bull is unlike any other bodybuilding book available!

I tie in life experiences with gym experiences, nutrition, workout routines, and taking chances in life like someone with nothing to lose!

A lot of readers have emailed me and told me that this book has changed their lives!

When you read Becoming the Bull it’ll quickly put it all into perspective for you…YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE AND EVERYTHING TO GAIN!


21 thoughts on “Team Sports vs Bodybuilding! How a bad experience with team sports forged a bodybuilder”

  1. I went througth the same shit all the way till I graduated high school . Who’s mom is blowing the coach , who’s dad is donating money to the program I went through it . Then i found the gym and never looked back. Now i’m 48 years old and my two teenage daughters are going through the same shit but when the other parents and coach see me on the sidelines the put their heads down . I dont say anything i’m nice but im built and they are not . My kids ask me why I lift everyday in and out and now they know they finally got it certain things are rigged As sad as it may be. But no one can ever take the gym away and your achievements are yours and as Henry Rollins said 200lbs will always be 200lbs regardless of what anyone says or whose parents are doing what.
    Good artcle looking foward to more…..

      • This is a really great read. Appreciate it man. It really describes the bodybuilding mindset of if you can’t fit in you make yourself stand out. Pro bodybuilding is all about standing out up on stage in Posedown and what you train for. Everthing you do from conditioning and posing practice and coach evals and nutrition and GEAR protocols all are to make yourself stand out.

  2. I had to deal with surgeries from burns as a child. Most of my time was spent alone in pain. I could only really play around with the computer or video games. I couldn’t relate much to anyone else. My dad was really obese and always argued with my mom and they eventually divorced. Deep down inside I wanted a real sense of strength to keep things together. I wanted to look and feel a sense of strength, to be attractive to women and vent my frustrations of not fitting in with this society that acts so damn soulless at times.

    • James, your story reminds me of this guy that Black Rifle Coffee company did a story on. He was burned really badly over in Iraq, dude got into powerlifting and he’s a straight beast!! Go get that sense of strength, fuck everyone else!! -JD

  3. Hey bull,
    Thanks for a great article. I discovered you through victor pride’s blog and really enjoy like your articles.
    Your story is similar to mine and i know what you mean by coaches wanted to win at all costs for a 5 dollar plastic trophy, its terrible.
    I think of parents want to be coaches they should be allowed but they cant have their kod on their team because they will show favoritism.
    At the moment i had to shut things down in my workout part.of life due to a detached retina. Im doing cardio and im attempting to just do arms at the moment because i feel o can isolate them and not have to worry about lifting heavy weights which can further cause damage to my eye. Im doing 60 days straight of biceps to see what kind of results i can produce. Ill share my results online somehow and hopefully it will be impressive.
    Thanks again for the article, it really spoke to me and my life. Tim

  4. Hello BULL.
    Thanks for a great article, it really hit home for me. I agree with you about youth and group sports and these parents getting all flustered and histerical over a 5 dollar trophy is disgusting.
    Ive seen this nonsense my whole life and my thing is this; if parents want to be coaches thats fine but they cant be the coach of thier own kids team. They will favor their kids and keep others on the bench and that can have painfull outcomes for youngsters.
    Your story is similar to my own so i can appreciate where you are coming from on this issue. I discovered wieghtlifting in high school as well and bu senior year people definitely noticed me, but my ugly face didnt help my.cause. i say that sort of joking but i am hard to look at. Im surprised you had trouble with the ladies because you are very good looking and with the added component of a great physique it should have been a slam dunk for you.
    At the moment i have to shut down my workouts because of a detached retina. Im doing cardio at this time and im trying to do just arms so i can keep thinhs going a little bit. Im doing a little experiment in which im gonna do 60 days of bicep workouts and see what kind of results i can get. When im done ill post my results somewhere online so the world can either cheer or jeer.
    Thanks again for the article. Your brother from another mother here in jersey, tim.

    • thanks man, my problem was my confidence like so many other adolescents go through. I think it comes down to feeling comfortable in your own skin, something I never really had until I began developing my body more. It helped mold the mind also,thanks for reading -JD

  5. I was undersized most of my life. I was short as fuck until 15 and skinny as a broom stick. I had some coaches that did care and gave me opportunities and some really crappy ones that only cared about winning. None of them crappy coaches forged me into a bodybuilder though.

    But ill tell you what did.

    When I was 15 there was a girl I liked in my science class. One day the teacher assigned us to sit next to each other and I began putting on the moves. I would make her laugh and she would put her head on my shoulder and all of that.

    After a few weeks I gained the courage to ask her out. She told me this and I’ll never forget it:

    “You’re the skinniest boy Ive ever seen. You make me feel fat and there’s no way I would be with you.”

    That shit crushed me.

    I went home and asked mom to take me to Walmart so I could buy a 100lb sand filled weight set.

    I did every exercise I knew how every day. Floor press, curls, overhead press, bent over rows, cleans, and deadlifts. Over summer break I took the weights outside and would workout in the sun.

    When I came back to school the following year I wasn’t that broomstick boy anymore. I had gone from 5’6 105 to 5’8 135 and I was ripped to shreds and tan as fuck!!

    I had gone from virtually invisible to the fucking man. The hottest girls in school would come up and grab my arms and touch my abs. I certainly wasn’t big at 135 pounds but boy did I look good and had confidence. Not only that but my athletic performance increased a ton. I went from barely being able to touch the basketball net when I jumped to grabbing the rim. This new explosive strength carried with my thru all sports and I was never an afterthought when picking teams.

    Now 12 years later I’ve kept up with the fitness and I’m loving every second. I’m 5’8 155 right now so I’m not quite a bodybuilder. But I have abs carved of granite, big arms, a large back and the ladies love it!!

    Besides the attention from girls, bodybuilding is just a great hobby. It keeps me eating healthy foods and allows me to make more male friends. And when I’m having a bad day I hit the gym and all is well. Its hard to be mad when you see your arms bulging walking by car windows and seeing the pump!!

    Glad you’re back JDB

  6. Awesome read and so true! I’m seeing it with my children as well. Thank you for putting these real life experiences into prose we can all learn from!

  7. I started lifting weights in my mid-twenties. When I finally decided to stop smoking cigarettes (up to two packs/day) and had enough of being embarrassed at how I looked without my shirt on. I’m 55 years old (which shockingly to me at least, means I’ve been lifting weights for darn near 30 years now) and I’ve never looked better.

    And like you, JD – my life turned around because of weight-lifting. Not just the way I looked or felt about myself but also my professional and personal life. I guess developing the discipline to get to the gym every day and train hard (and having the faith that the muscles would eventually come) resulted in positive changes in other areas which lead me to where I am today (a very proud dad in a fantastic marriage and with a great career).

    Now here’s the ironic part of all this: When I was growing up, I never felt like I really fit in. Perhaps because I wasn’t one of the cool kids or perhaps because of low self-esteem due to the way I felt about my appearance. But when I recently went back to the old neighborhood and met up with friends that I hadn’t seen in 20+ years I saw that they had all let themselves go and most looked much, much older than their mid-50’s. And while it was nice to see everyone again and to catch up, I walked away from that experience thinking that I still don’t fit it because now no one looks anywhere near as good as I do!

    Thanks for sharing that story about yourself, JD.

    • thanks for reading, and I think through all of the hard work over the years we eventually become a product of it. I’m glad to hear about your success and enjoyed reading your response as well- JD

  8. I’m so glad you came back from the nether regions. Your stories are solid and ground level.

    Been pushing iron for almost 50 years, it’s a Fountain of Youth.

    I look at men my age or thereabouts and WTF? Very unhealthy bodies, Why would you let your Porsche sit out in a hail storm?

  9. Im so glad you are back John. Im 32 years old and just picked up a weight for the first time last year. I found your site at the beginning and have been a disciple. Thanks for all the REAL info brother!

  10. John Doe Bodybuilding

    Incredible post. Best article I’ve read in a *long* time.

    Back in high school I used to lift weights and dream about how it’d get me closer to the person I wanted to be.

    I never told anyone how I worked on myself behind closed doors.

    I remember there was a class competition one lunch period.

    People were crowded around to see who could do the most pull-ups.

    The pull-up bar was in the middle of the campus for everyone to see and judge. Cheer or ridicule.

    Nobody from any of the classes could do more than 14 pull-ups.

    Which I thought it was terribly pathetic.

    So I said “fuck it” and went up myself.

    When I walked up I was completely nervous. I jumped up and hung onto the bar.

    Hanging there looking straight ahead, I made eye contact with this girl.

    While looking at me straight in the eye, this bitch said to her friend:

    “He can’t do it”

    This person didn’t know who I was. Most people watching had no clue who I was.

    But there’s one thing I knew for sure.

    I’m gonna make that person eat the shit they spit.

    10 reps easy.

    People were surprised by how easy I made it look.

    20 reps, feeling it.

    Now the buffer kids who did less reps were cheering. Telling me to push further.

    30 reps, tired.

    I was only 160lbs. But that last one made my wing cramp. So I let go.

    Some of you readers probably think that’s jack shit.

    But knowing I outdid the rest gave me a sense of pride.

    I got praises from my fellow students. And teachers who heard about it started to refer to me as an athlete.

    I never played cooperative sports in school.

    In my mind, I was just me. And I was still just me.

    But it felt as if, for just a brief moment-

    I let people *get a peek* of who I am.

    // Wrote this the day this article was posted. But kept it put away. After reading it again I decided “fuck it” I’ll share. I really like your new podcast and new articles. Your content has been incredible. Keep up the great work.


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