13 Mar

Team Occupy Ball Street

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to exercise once a week. I take these things seriously. So my solution was to sign up for some sort of team sport. I figured if I dropped money and also had a group of people depending on me to show up, I might actually pull myself away from watching Law & Order long enough to be physically active.

So I signed up for dodgeball. Partially for the novelty of it, partially because it didn’t seem to require skill, and mainly because I didn’t believe people would be competitive about it. It’s dodgeball, a game made famous in elementary school gymnasiums and a Vince Vaughn movie.

I enlisted in a group in New York called New York City Social Sports. A man I dated last summer told me about it and how it had changed his life. He posts about it on Facebook nearly constantly and was religious about going to his games. It’s a good concept really (similar to my beloved Pac-12 summer softball league). You sign up for a team, you play, you go out for drinks afterwards. Fun! Although it ended up defeating the purpose of my New Year’s Resolution, as we typically spent more time drinking low-quality beer instead of actually being physically active. Darn you alcohol, you’ve bested me once again.

I also learned that some people take dodgeball very seriously. Very, very, very seriously. Luckily, none of those people were on my team. But, that whole National Dodgeball Championship scene in Las Vegas in the aforementioned Vince Vaughn movie? That’s a real thing, and I met a lot of people who actually compete in it annually. These people throw those rubber balls hard, and they have strategies. Our team was rag-tag and our main goal was to get the other team out. One of the most notorious dodgeballers (his nickname is The Hulk, swear to God) eventually sat us down and went over strategy with us.

Little did he know that all the strategy was absolutely not sinking in. Why? Because we were already drunk. That was our strategy. It was to be our last game of the season. We had been brutally slaughtered in our previous games, and we knew there was no way we were making the playoffs. So we figured why not drink before the game? It might make the 50 mph rubber balls flying at us a little less intimidating. At this point, it really couldn’t hurt.

So there we are getting pointers from the Hulk, drunkenly trying to take it all in. The main strategy, which we had figured out fairly early in the season, was to try and take out the other team’s best players first. That way it is easier to pick off the weaklings at the end, the ones that can’t catch. Hopefully, if you are following this logic correctly, you’ve already figured out that this means that I am consistently the last one on my team left on the court. Hulk pointed out to me that the best thing to do in this situation is to back into a corner when it’s the other team’s turn to throw and go for a catch. It’s the only hope really, as my weak arm is never getting anybody on the other team out.

So naturally, the next game, there I stand, alone on the court, facing down four strong dodgeballers. I back into the corner, and I get ready to catch. I take a deep breath, hunch down, spread my arms for the oncoming slaughter, and pray.

You know, I think I would have actually caught one, but I was thrown off my game by the ball that hit me in the eye. And it hit me hard. How hard? It threw me back a foot so that I hit my head hard on the brick wall behind me. The other guy was out on a head shot rule, but I was also out as injured. I’m not exaggerating when I say I blacked out for a minute. I immediately got ice packs on it and sat out the rest of the game. Was it worth it? Absolutely! I met some great people and had a fun time every Wednesday night.

The day after battle, I went to work with some light bruising around my eye and a puffed up cheek scratched red from the friction of the ball. My co-workers would walk by me and ask, “What happened to you?”

Solemnly, I would reply, “Dodgeball.”


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