Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Washed-Up Athletes Club

When you’re in a business school as demanding as Darden is, you need an escape. Some sort of way to release your stress, step away from your cases, and clear your mind. Some people do it at the gym, pounding away on the treadmill until their sneakers have gaping holes. Others head to the Corner and grab a drink or ten. In some rare cases, overwhelmed students run frantically through the halls screaming “I can’t take it anymore, I can’t take it anymore!!” Me, I play softball.

Let me explain why briefly: I’ve had a bat and glove in my hand for as long as I can remember. For the longest time, baseball was one of the most important things in my life (actually it still is). Then my college career ended, the real world began, and playing regularly wasn’t really an option anymore. I joined an un-elite group, one of full of others with a competitive fire but no way to fulfill it: The Washed-Up Athletes Club. We have members all over the world and are easily spotted:
·      At the local sports bar still wearing our lettermans’ jacket and state championship ring
·      Trying to win a meaningless game of pick-up basketball at the gym, running over anyone in our way
·      At the football tailgate talking about how we used to play against so-and-so who is now in the Major Leagues or NFL
But by far the most popular place for washed-up athletes to hang out is the softball field. We come from all athletic backgrounds and abilities with one purpose: pretend like we are still just as good as we once were. That’s why I’m proud to be a member of Darden’s second-year softball team. We’ve assembled some of the greatest washed-up athletes out there, including:
·          Various college athletes (baseball, football, hockey, etc.)
·          Former professional hockey players
·          A former pro-baseball player who still tries to throw the softball 90 miles-an-   hour
·          High-school stars that haven’t given up the dream
It’s easily my favorite escape in business school. Most guys don’t take it as seriously as I do, and I realize it’s silly, but frankly I don’t care. We get together, warm up just enough so no one blows out an Achilles, try to hit a homerun every time we swing, and argue every single call with an umpire who wonders how anybody could care so much about a meaningless game. For me it’s total bliss; the chance to be competitive, hang out with some friends, and relive my glory days. [Note: there is also one thing that’s awesome about being washed-up as opposed to a real athlete: every game becomes an excuse to drink.  And always out of America’s favorite drinking contraption, the red Solo cup.]
At the end of the day, we don’t really care about winning, because it doesn’t really matter. It’s just about the escape. And Lord knows I really, really need that. I’m not sure if there is an official Washed-Up Athletes Club out there, but if there was I’d be a member for life. And you know what, I’m ok with it. That being said, if you’re a pro-baseball scout looking for a mediocre second baseman whose been keeping himself in shape playing slow-pitch softball, give me a call.
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