Home > Sports > Act Like You’ve Been There – and Other Tips for Rec Leaguers Everywhere

Act Like You’ve Been There – and Other Tips for Rec Leaguers Everywhere

Just realized that for the first time in the four-year history of SMP, I let a month go by without a post.  Ah, the lost October.  Man, that’s just inexcusable. So, here comes a super-sized entry about something that’s near and dear to my heart.  At least after the last few weeks. Sportsmanship in rec leagues.

Here’s where it started… A few months ago, my World Team Tennis group won our local league and moved to the next level.  We were a collection of guys and gals who were all ranked a 3.5 in the NTRP standings.  Like a golf handicap, the NTRP ranking allows you to play people of similar skill level.  A 3.5 means that we’re all solidly average, intermediate players.  Sometimes we hit great shots… sometimes we shank them all over the court.

Unbeknownst to us – but beknownst to the other teams – we were actually playing for the chance to represent our area in the national finals in Indian Wells, Calif.  Because we didn’t know the stakes, we breezed through a few early rounds and made it to the finals.  Then, we figured out what we were playing for.

I like the way my team responded.  We didn’t tense up or freak out.  Since we didn’t know there was an ultimate prize, most of us didn’t set aside that week, and were unable to go to the nationals anyway.  It would be nice to win the sectional tourney, sure, but the ultimate goal was not a possibility.

Then, we play the finals against a very intense, very determined foe.  They beat us, and they beat us good.  No harm there.  The main reason I’m telling this story (promise… I’m getting there) is that their celebration was, well, a tad overdone for winning a World Team Tennis sectional.  At the 3.5 level.

They jumped up and down and hugged and cheered.  All the while, our mixed doubles team waited at the net for the traditional handshake, but the celebration continued. It was probably 15-20 seconds, but that feels like an eternity when it’s giddy celebration on the other side.  Only when our team shrugged and started walking off the court did the party ease and they agreed to a handshake.

Should this team have been excited?  Sure.  Was it that big of a deal to throw sportsmanship out the window and act like buffoons?  Nope.

So, to help all us “adults” out there playing rec league sports, here’s a handy-dandy guide on how to act during and after that epic softball tourney win… or that mind-boggling over-40 soccer win that clinches the regular season title for the  Butt Scratch, Mo. rec league.  Trust me, a lot of us need this info, or you could fall of the douchebag cliff:

  1. Remember: nobody* really give a crap – OK, perhaps a trophy will go up at the local sports bar when the bowling team takes home a shiny trophy.  Or maybe the office softball team finally bested those bastards from Initech.  But here’s the real poop.  It’s really a lot less meaningful than you want to believe.  Coach Dean Smith used to tell his kids before big NCAA basketball games that “a billion people in China don’t care about this game.”  How about that Wednesday night bowling league game?

    (* most people in your social network and even many family members don’t care.   Let that guide your behavior, sparky.)

  2. Celebrate to the level of the competition – In my tennis story, we’re intermediate/average players.  The celebration should have been an intermediate/average celebration.  A good “wooo!” and a handshake are good enough, but for god’s sake, go shake the hand of your opponents.  Don’t be, well, douchy about it.
  3. Set a good example – Many guys and gals take their kids to these games, and if you ever want your kid to act like a civil human being in sports (or any other aspect of life) act responsibly.  However, after watching parents grouse at officials in a recent 7-year-old soccer tournament game (true story), this is apparently a lost cause.
  4. Don’t play mind games… or at least try to. – This is one of the funniest things to me.  In a volleyball game last week, an opposing player said this after winning a point: “We got them!  They’re rattled.”  Really?  We were rattled?  I told one of his teammates that I manage a multi-million dollar budget, and it takes a little more than a lost point in a rec-league volleyball game to “rattle” me.  It was buffoonish.
  5. Don’t… don’t… DON’T celebrate an opponent’s mistakes – Perhaps it’s OK at the college or pro level, but not in the way-down amateur level.  This is another thing that came up last week. I went up for a spike, mistimed my jump (it happens a lot), and hit the ball about halfway down the net.  Just an awful shot.  The other team’s setter let out a “Yes!” that just reverberated off the gym walls.  I think he was a bit embarrassed when I stood there, looking at him with a “WTF?” look on my face.  I wasn’t trying to be a jerk, but his team had absolutely nothing to do with my error.  I was incredulous.

There are other rules that I’m probably forgetting.  But after six weeks of “off time” and creative bankruptcy, hitting the 900-word count is somewhat of an achievement.  Feel free to add any others.  Just don’t be a jerk about it.

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