Home > Sports > Playing rec-league sports? Don't be "That Guy"

Playing rec-league sports? Don't be "That Guy"

A few years ago (before XM had me coming up with inane classifications for R&B genres), I used to listen to Jim Rome’s radio show. Granted, some of the humor — if it could be called that — wasn’t my cup of tea. I didn’t like the idea of rants from the members of his “Jungle,” but one thing I did like: his ongoing ridicule of “Softball Guy.”

Who is Softball Guy? According to Wikipedia’s entry on Jim Rome’s show, “Rome feels that Softball Guy takes the recreational game much too seriously…” He goes on to vilify this creature for sophomoric actions, like putting 69 on the back of his jersey — or thinking that he could have made the big leagues if some knuckleheaded coach hadn’t gotten in the way.

But it’s that first facet of the description that I always seem to run into. The serious competitor in a rec league. The brow-furrowed, rulebook-thumping competitive bastard that can just ruin a fun game of volleyball, tennis or basketball. That Guy who thinks because you’re keeping score that it’s a life-or-death affair.

Just last week, I stumbled across another of this breed in my 4×4 co-ed sand volleyball league. There are two divisions. We’re in the lowest one. Yeah, we’re hacks.

The problem started at the very outset. The courts at this park have expandable lines that you can adjust, and when That Guy’s team took the court, he asked if we should move the lines back to the longest setting since they were set up for 2-man courts. My team couldn’t care less, and we basically said they were fine as they were — but he was free to move them. We just wanted to get started, get out of the 95-degree heat, and go home.

That Guy agreed, and we got to see That Guy in action. And in the interest of full disclosure, I’m an above-average rec-league player. Someone who’s well below average of a competitive league. I played some club volleyball at Carolina, but I was just too rooted to the floor to do any good. As time marched on — and I added 25 extra pounds — my skills have only eroded.

But, I can see a good volleyball when I see it. And That Guy was a step or two behind me. About as overweight.  Dressed in very nice Nike Dri-fit apparel. But here’s a dead giveaway that you’re not a good volleyball player: when you pass the ball, you’re elbows are bent, causing you to hit the ball with your thumbs. That’s what That Guy did. Not off the forearms like they teach you at the Y.

Plus, when he tried to spike, he mostly hit floaters or rammed harder ones into the net. Bad form. Poor execution. Am I painting the picture here? Good.

My team — playing pretty well but not great — managed to pull out a victory with a 16-14 margin in the deciding third game. The final point was decided when That Guy’s partner — That Quieter Guy — hit another spike a full foot below the top of the net. Before the ball had even settled, he said, “I just can’t hit on these short courts.”

Although that was a weird thing to say before the post-game handshake, I tried to let it go. We shook hands and left the court. And then I heard That Guy talking to the rest of the team — with me only about 25 feet away but clearly within earshot.

“Guys, I’m sorry. I take full responsibility for this one,” That Guy said. “We should have never played on a short court.”

OK, maybe we did play on a “short court” (although there’s no ruling in the book to say which length is standard for our league). But, here’s the thing”

  1. If it was so freakin’ important, why not INSIST on moving the court?
  2. Why just poop on someone else’s win right in front of them?
  3. Was the court shorter only on the side that you were hitting to? Nope! I had several swings that landed a foot or two out.
  4. And more importantly, do you honestly believe you are good enough to notice the difference of two feet on the court? You couldn’t hit it over the net, you thick-headed numbskull!

The last point is the one that keeps me chuckling. It’s the equivalent of a bowler with a 130 average complaining about the wax on the lane. Or a beginning tennis player playing on a court where the lines are a shade closer. You are not a finely-tuned volleyball machine. Get the hell over it.
Man, that really pissed me off (could you tell?). I guess I just go into these sporting events for a different reason. I’m there to have fun, stay in shape and play hard. Winning and losing is fourth on that list.

But sometimes I run across That Guy and his ilk. And then I get competitive. Because if they want to win so badly, I can’t let that happen. Guess I become That Guy then. But it’s for a good reason. Isn’t it?

Categories: Sports

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