Thursday, September 24, 2009


I mentioned it a little in my previous post that I had played kickball over the weekend. Well, I mostly whined about my foot, but I mentioned the kickball, too. I wanted to elaborate a little more on it here because, well, I wanted to.

After Game 1, which we lost by what I perceived as a convincing score of 8-0, I scoffed at the idea of adults playing kickball with such verve and poked fun at the other team for stretching and having a game plan and, y'know, trying. Here I sit, about eight weeks later, backpedaling. And I say "pedaling" because walking is still slightly painful. Hence, the pre-game stretching by the other team.

I need to retract some of my statements from this earlier post after that first game, because I will say right now that playing kickball was maybe the most fun I've had in a long time. After that first game, where we struggled to field a full team, we won our next game by a substantial margin (like 17-8 or something), and suddenly, losing 8-0 with half of the team not being there didn't seem so bad. But there was something else "afoot." This second game was way more fun. Obviously, winning is more fun than losing, and whoever brought the cooler of beer should be thanked, as well, but you could feel that team camaraderie thing happening. Maybe it was the bright red shirts, but we were starting to pull together. We established actual positions in the field and strategies, like what to do when the other team bunts, and even caught the ball. The highlight may have been the huge 14-9 comeback victory after being down 8-2. Okay, okay. the highlight was actually the post-game team meetings at the Bus Stop pub, but the game was a blast, too. And in a real telling moment, the team using the field after our game a few weeks ago only had three members, and thus had to forfeit, but most of our team elected to stay and play for them in a scrimmage, and we helped them attain a moral victory, even if it went into the record books as a loss. The cool thing was that we actually wanted to play that second game, just for the hell of it.

By the end of the season, Team Hangover was 4-2, losing only to the two teams who ended up undefeated (and we really should have beaten that Green team). In the playoffs, it all came full circle and we were soundly trounced by the same team that defeated us on week 1, who eventually went on to win it all and take home an actual trophy (Well, they didn't take it right home. They took it to the pub and filled it with beer first. Did I mention that kickball was fun?). I still didn't like their win-at-all-costs attitude and their small-ball strategy ("Small ball" is right on the money. Even the men were bunting), but they had fun at it, too, so to each his own. Maybe the most gratifying moment came after the game, where, despite what I would consider some poor playing - by me, mostly - one of our opponents came over to us and said that we were the best team they had faced and played them tougher than anyone else all season. Cold comfort, but it did make me feel better. As did the cold pitchers of beer afterwords.

I guess what gets me is that a lot of people snickered (myself included) when I told them I was spending my Sunday afternoons playing kickball. I find it strange that a sport that is basically a combination of soccer and baseball gets bemused so. In fact, there are elements that are superior to baseball (no walking, no striking out), and truly, you don't need to be a very good athlete to play, but the fact it is played by children (or was. Who knows what kids are into these days?) makes people laugh at you when you play it as an adult. I don't know why kickball doesn't get accepted and yet lacrosse does. And wouldn't most people rather watch kickball than golf? Is it the simple fact that my generation refuses to grow up at all that makes this debate even possible? With some minor tweaking, can kickball be saved and brought into the mainstream someday?

Interesting questions all, and ones I don't have an answer for. but I do know this; I'm saving my red shirt, and if I am still physically capable, I'll be on that field next season.

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