It’s just a fact of life that sometimes you’ve got to learn things the hard way. I’ve learned many things this way, including a few things from one instance this weekend.You’re probably thinking I’m going to spout off some crazy Halloween story. However, as much as I wish I could’ve learned my lesson by trying to outrun a horse on State Street dressed as Lee Corso, this was even dumber.While playing a great sport — perhaps involving ping-pong balls being thrown at 10 plastic “hoops” — I slipped up and knocked one of the “hoops” over. While that is not unheard of, it is one of my biggest pet peeves.In a spat of anger and stupidity, I turned around and propelled my fist into a wall. I was pretty sure it was broken, but I played on, sinking my next three consecutive shots before deciding I probably should be done.After going about my business the rest of the night, I went in for X-rays the next day to find out I had a broken hand.So what did I learn, and how does this relate to sports, you ask? I’m glad you did … here’s the laundry list of lessons and ideas I pondered while sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and relaxing with my hand and wrist in a splint over the last five days:— Things can be learned from St. Louis Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez.No, I’m not saying it’s a good idea to change the pronunciation of your name at the beginning of every season in order to confuse everyone.But I should have learned from Tavarez that frustrated dugout tirades get you nowhere. After all, he did the same thing after a rough outing in last year’s National League Championship Series.In fact, when he punched a dugout phone, he broke two bones — one of them, the fifth metacarpal, was the same bone I broke.— Being competitive is not always a good thing.Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an unwavering competitiveness that I thought was a blessing. The only negative thing it had ever gotten me was a few technical fouls in rec-league high school basketball.In fact, as far as the previously described “sport” I was playing when I broke my hand, this competitiveness had led me to an astounding record and one major championship.Suddenly, I realized that there is such a thing as being too competitive, which leads to my next lesson.— I have always heard teams — primarily the University of Wisconsin hockey team — describe a utopian balance between hard and smart on the ice.The basic principle is that you want to play every game as hard as you can, but not to the point that you forget the systems or the basic idea of the game. Sometimes you can be firing on all cylinders, or perhaps over-firing, to the point that you don’t remember the simple things.Now I really see what they mean. I have always played hard — thus the competitive attitude — but apparently I haven’t had that balance.I was playing so hard that when I went for a block, I knocked over that “basket.” That was obviously not very smart, and neither was slamming a wall.— When fighting a wall, the wall always wins.This is pretty self-explanatory. Outside of a skirmish about a year ago in which I never threw punches, but merely sat on the guy, I had never been in a fight.Needless to say, I didn’t expect my boxing debut — and perhaps my boxing retirement — to come against an inanimate object.— Playing through the pain.I have always loved the stories of athletes playing through pain. Curt Schilling and the famous “sock game,” Kirk Gibson’s walk-off, Donovan McNabb playing through his sports hernia and Anthony Davis — oh, wait, he never played through anything more than a stubbed toe.But I digress … by sinking my next three shots with my broken hand, I feel like I can now put myself in their shoes.I know it sounds like a major exaggeration, and it probably is, but, wow, you should’ve seen the size of this thing thanks to the immediate swelling.— While it’s hard to admit after wanting to hate him last year, I have a lot of respect for Dee Brown.You see, as I was laid up I found myself reading the article in ESPN Magazine about his battle back from a broken fifth metatarsal — same injury as mine but in the foot instead of the hand.Reading about his comeback was inspirational, and I commend him for taking a leadership role despite everything that went down leading up to the NBA draft.Now we’ll see what happens when the season starts. I’m actually hoping that he does well, because I want to know that I can come back from this.I’m sure this is not the last time I will learn things the hard way, although I hope next time it’s a little less painful, a lot less annoying and doesn’t involve me being on the shelf for four to six weeks.But never fear kids, I’m still playing through this one. I’ll be here again next Wednesday, and, if you see me on the streets before then, please don’t laugh at me.Eric is a senior majoring in history. If you want to send him cookies or be his own personal nurse for the next four to six weeks, e-mail him at email@example.com.