Thank God for my wife

For most of my life, I've been an equipment freak. I'm one of those guys who enjoys spending my free time every night flipping through the pages of product catalogs and drooling over the latest technological advances from top-of-the-line cameras to the latest and greatest computer-game consoles.

But the items that have always interested me the most have to do with sports: top-of-the-line skis that turn better, baseball bats that make you hit the ball farther and bowling balls that curve no matter how poorly I roll the ball.

Regardless of the particular sport, all these athletic toys share at least one thing in common -- an impressive price tag.

Unfortunately for me, I've never been in a financial position to buy all those great gadgets -- at least not as many as I would like to. Which explains my lack of athletic accomplishments.

It's not that I'm poor, but spending $399.99 on a DeMarini DXSF2-#3 with a C405 core (possibly the only bat in the world that would allow me to hit a home run) is simply out of the question.

Should I begin to forget this fact, I can count on my wife to remind me of it at least once, maybe twice, a summer.

But I am not alone in my desire to buy better performance. Every year and almost every week, I see recreational athletes dig deep into their wallets to improve their game -- no matter what the game is.

The truth is, spending a lot of money on equipment will never replace true athletic ability, but it makes those of us without any ability feel a lot better about ourselves. I mean, how could you look bad if you were holding a Louisville SB103TBS (list price $399.99) at home plate, or even an Easton Tri Schell ($249.99) with the bases loaded?

It's not like most of the people who play recreational sports are hoping to become professional athletes someday. They are simply looking for an edge that will make them look a little better in that Tuesday night co-ed summer softball league or the Thursday night men's bowling league in the winter.

Like me, most recreational athletes are suckers for this kind of stuff.

The companies that make athletic equipment count on us to make millions of dollars each year. They know that talent and hard work are only going to take the weekend warrior so far in this world and that most of us are willing to part with a portion of our paycheck for better performance.

But sometimes performance isn't the only consideration. I recently spent $170 on a bowling ball and my average hasn't increased a single pin. Just in case I didn't realize that fact, I'm lucky to have my wife around to remind me.

In the end, what's a few dollars if you get the chance to feel like a professional for a few hours each week? Nobody asks how much that bat cost as long you drive the ball out of the infield for a hit or shutters at the thought of spending $200 on a resin reactive ball that sends pins flying every time it smashes into the pocket.

Now, if I could only sell my wife on that idea, I'm sure I can buy a bat that will let me hit the ball out of the park ...

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