Home > Sports > Fractured wrist… cracked rib… it's broomball, the corporate edition

Fractured wrist… cracked rib… it's broomball, the corporate edition

Last Friday, my company completed its annual kick-off meeting with a “Fun Day” event at a local ice rink. The whole company (well, about 50 of our 80 or so) was going to play a spirited game of broomball, which is akin to hockey except you wear tennis shoes and use a broom-like implement to sweep a ball on the ice towards a goal. It is, in the words of a teammate, an event that’s just “begging for injuries.”

Have you ever tried to walk on ice? A tad slippery, eh? Ever tried to chase after a ball, dodge competitors and use a stick to “shoot” a ball towards a goal without falling? Well, that’s even trickier.

Now, this was the second time my employer tried broomball. The first time, we had half as many employees, so we divided into two teams and merely tried to score without falling (similar to my goals at college bars when I was 19, but that’s another story). The “winner” received nothing more than a pat on the back and bragging rights. No real injuries, just a few bruised backsides and a few more bruised egos.

This time around, they split us into four teams and then offered the winning team a $50 gift card. By doing this, the powers-that-be made two vital mistakes:

  1. Any reward is enough for people to peg the competitive needle. I’m talking $50 at a local burger joint. You’d think we were competing for the antidote. Holy crap!
  2. By dividing us into teams, they started a “we vs. they” mentality. On the good side, the teams crossed departmental lines, so instead of the typical “them vs. us” (sales vs. marketing, etc.), we bonded with new colleagues to beat down a new enemy. Sweet! On the bad side, well, people got competitive. About broomball. Did I mention that we were swinging sticks and running with on a slippery surface? Oh well, we did have helmets on.

Now, if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s steering clear of dangerous situations. This is why I’ve never been in a fight. Always trying to punk out two steps in advance.

So, I convinced my new teammates that, based on our previous broomball experience, I was a top-flight goalie. And it was true – the other time, I only gave up two goals. My logic then and now is the same: as goalie, I don’t have to move around and “mix it up.” So, I “volunteered” (i.e., begged) to be goalie. Then, I made them believe that my surname is French-Canadian for “badass.” Faster than you can say “Ed Belfour,” I’m tending goal for the Grey team.

Then the play began, and boy, it got crazy – fast. It was like Murderball without the feel-good story of handicapped participants. I saw wipeouts of varying shapes and sizes. Within five minutes, one of our developers lost his footing and for a split second, he was three feet above the ice, completely horizontal and readying for a butt-first reunion on the ice. As goalie, my “safe” job became quite harrowing, as wave after wave of white-collar colleagues descended on me – swinging sticks, kicking and hollering up a storm. It was, in a word, terrifying.

However, I wasn’t immune to the spirit of the day. I even hit the ice in a futile attempt to keep the ball out of the goal several times. Of course, I doubt other goalies immediately transitioned to the fetal position so quickly. Yeah, I’m hardcore.

The final tally from the “Fun Day” was one broken bone in the wrist (by my chief defender, a five-foot-nothing enforcer who always had my back) and a cracked rib (suffered by another goalie who foolishly left the crease for more adventure… the dumbass). Several others were complaining today of soreness, sprains and various aches. Yep, three days later, and we’re still suffering the effects.

I think it’s safe to say that the company won’t be doing a broomball excursion anytime soon. Perhaps next time, we’ll just play tackle football at the local park. I call goalie.

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