Ever the glutton for punishment (and more than ever in need of something to write about) on Wednesday I (and my software development compatriots) kicked off sports league number 2: Kickball. I wasn't actually considering blogging about this experience since I already wrote a sports themed post a couple of months ago and unlike topics such as trashy tv and bad dates I didn't see any need to revisit the topic lest people get the wrong impression about the priorities of this site. But then during our first game one of opposing players (a gigantic man with a red bandana tied around his massive skull) started doing a bull imitation at home plate. As he pawed at the ground and held horns over his ears while zerberting the air to make a sort of growling bull-like noise I yelled across the outfield to my friend Jeremy, "GREAT. Now I have to blog this."
Despite my membership over the past few month on two different sports teams I am no Sporty Spice. When Lisa and I joke about being the same person I almost always say, "except you like sports" in a tone of voice usually reserved for inefficiency and the scent of summer in the subway. As a kid I despised sports primarily because I wasn't good at them (also because I was lazy) and in an effort to preserve my fragile sense of superiority I religiously avoided anything that I might not excel at. I was forced through the cruel Physical Education requirement at my high school to join the tennis team which resulting in me getting hit in the eye with a ball at 75miles per hour which I might have been more upsetting if it hadn't gotten me out of at least 2 days of onerous practice. I've since gotten much better at being bad at things. I'm perfectly comfortable listing huge numbers of things that I suck at (like remembering to put on deodorant in the morning so I don't have to sneak it onto my armpits while sitting at my desk) of which "sports" is a nice little category. But I no longer equate poor performance with hatred -- I can have fun and suck AT THE SAME TIME! Kickball was likely in the top three most fun things I did this week (number 1 being "watched R. Kelly's Rap Opera Trapped in the Closet)
Pregame on Wednesday when the subject of positions came up I quickly regressed back to junior high PE and immediately jumped on the oft coveted by 12 year old members of the math team far far far left field. This was a mistake. In junior high one could be relatively assured that no player would exert enough effort to drive a big rubber ball more than 15 feet from home plate but in the uber competitive world of casual kickball for 30 year old real estate traders and software developers the balls were much more likely to come hurling into the outfield at 300 miles per hour. When this happens people will expect you to try to catch the ball or at least run after it while simultaneously suppressing your urges to do a couple of cartwheels and make crowns and jewelry out of clover flower chains. Since I cannot catch or run or even effectively gauge where a ball is apt to land even when I am STARING RIGHT AT IT this position was a lot of hard work.
One of the things I love most about working in Software is that developers and their QA and PM brethren are shockingly socialist. Everyone gets a turn regardless of ability. Everyone is encouraged to try new things. We all wait in line together for bread. All of these values follow us to the field where I was twice offered a position guarding a base despite the fact that I kept calling "runs" "points". When a teammate ran all the way to third base before figuring out that he'd kicked a foul ball we all encouraged him with cheers of "good practice run!" The competition at Kickball was much more serious about winning. As we stood around the field pregame one of my teammates assessed the surrounding teams thusly: "They seem good. They have like wrist guards and shit." Our opening night opponents were not software developers. In addition to their literal bullying (see paragraph 1) they did everything short of organizing an elaborate all dude naked spankfest while simultaneously chugging Keystones to prove that the organization that brought them together was fraternal in origin. They challenged us to a post game round of flip cup. They affectionately and without irony called each other bro. They beat us 14-6.