Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's a League Game, Smokey

As we go further and further into the chasm of adulthood, many of us will try to find any way that we can to give ourselves a taste of being a kid. One of those ways to rekindle the good old days is signing up for recreational sports leagues, either an interoffice league at work or a weekend league with friends. When you get down to it, we're all there to try to recapture the time when our little league games where the highlights of the week, when being the guy who batted third or played shortstop was the most important thing in the world. Of course, nowadays it's just beer-league type stuff, a diversion from the routine, a few hours out of the week to scale back the hastiness of everyday life. And while above all else the name of the game (no matter what game you're playing) is having fun, that does not make it OK to blatantly suck and bear no regard for winning.

There's a few people like this on every team, whether it's softball, basketball, volleyball, you name it. They are there "just to have fun" and will remind everyone of that fact with a goofy smile and a shrug of the shoulders every time a botched play draws their teammates' glare. I'm sorry, but "just wanting to have fun" is not a blanket excuse for habitually poor play and/or disregard for fundamentals and strategy. You don't hear people say "wow, look at that, Joe out there has misplayed 3 fly balls this inning and somehow managed to strike out in slow pitch, but he's just here to have fun so it's OK." No, it's not OK. If you put the uniform on and step onto the field/court/rink, your job is to help your team. Fun is a by-product. You know what's fun? Playing well is fun. Winning is fun. Watching your team lose because a mongo wearing the same uniform as you forgot how many outs there were? That, my friends, is not fun.

I'm not saying to treat winning or losing like life or death, because that extreme is even worse than not caring. But just have a clue and take things somewhat seriously. If you fail to do that, you're wasting the time of others who actually care. You're probably the same guy who plays blackjack and doesn't hit a 14 when the dealer is showing a face card. Not to mention, playing on a company team can be politic city, so you can even be damaging your career. I think that's what grinds my gears the most about this matter - why do you sign up for something where you are, in essence, voluntarily embarrassing yourself in front of people whose opinions may matter? On the scale of office unpopularity, being that guy who everyone hopes isn't up to bat next or doesn't get the ball hit to him is only slightly better than being the smelly guy. That's right, the smelly guy. (this is where you nod your head and chuckle in agreement)

Bottom line? If it were just about fun we wouldn't keep score or standings. I'm not saying you have to be an A+ athlete to be on the field, because honestly if any of us were all that good we wouldn't be playing in a simple rec league. What I am saying is to know your limitations - I played intramural basketball in college and my only real value to the team was giving breathers to the guys who were actually good. So when it was a tight situation late in a game, I took myself out. If we lost, at least it wasn't going to be because I traveled. So if you are admittedly not that great a player (and being able to admit it is 90% of the battle), don't trot yourself out to left field in a tie game in the 7th inning, because the ball is going to find you, and odds are, you are not going to catch it.


  1. And all this time I thought you were on the Intramural basketball team because of your height.

  2. Well played, my brother.